Climate Change Enters Its Blood Sucking Phase

The brain of a yearling moose killed by ticks. Photo by David Dobbs.

Climate Change Enters Its Blood Sucking Phase,The Atlantic, Feb 21, 2019.

In northern New England, a climate-driven explosion in populations of moose ticks is decimating moose populations. They do so by literally sucking the life out of young calves during their first winter. In April 2019, I went into the snow of far northern Vermont with two young state field biologists to find the most recent calf to succumb. In one of the most gripping pieces of reporting I’ve ever done, I witnessed a grim necropsy done with such respect and care and sheer, unexpected beauty that it somehow gave me hope.

Despite the gore, the smell of digestion, and the animal’s emaciated state, the calf’s innards possessed an acute and unexpected beauty. His depletion—his body’s desperation to extract from itself every joule of energy—had turned the calf’s epithelia, the thin, stretchy linings that surround many organs, and which normally have a milky translucence marbled with pallid blotches of fat, into a gorgeously clear membrane. It was like a shrink-wrapped looking glass. When Debow pulled back the calf’s head and opened the underside of its throat, the animal’s thick windpipe, so cleanly displayed and perfectly formed and isolated, had the quality of a museum piece—with futuristic overtones, in its distinct, hoselike, mathematically regular segmentation, of the bones and strange tubes of the monster in Alien. No atlas or animation ever so beautifully displayed a trachea.

Get the rest at The Atlantic.