I think caterpillars are completely adorable but I know in big enough numbers they can decimate plant life pretty efficiently. Via The Extinction Protocol, I find an article from the Jakarta Globe a couple weeks ago.
East Java’s deputy governor has ordered officials to prepare for possible evacuations in areas hit by a caterpillar outbreak, a report said on Friday.
Saifullah Yusuf also requested authorities to monitor the situation in Probolinggo district, where villages were swamped by thousands of caterpillars, said Edi Purwinarti, the governor’s assistant on people’s welfare.
“So far, the condition is not that bad yet,” Edi said on Friday.
“The possibility of evacuating residents is [an option] if the conditions become worrying or dangerous,” Edi was quoted by Detiksurabaya.com as saying.
In the past two weeks, the swarm has spread to five subdistricts in Probolinggo, with the insects crawling into homes and fields, causing skin rashes among residents.
And for those who love mangoes, mourn the loss of 8800 trees that have been irreparably damaged by the cute and fuzzy scourge.
Now I’ll quote the article that prompted my post title, from today’s Globe:
House of Representatives (DPR) Speaker Marzuki Alie, who has a reputation for putting his foot in his mouth, said on Wednesday that the caterpillar infestations in parts of Bali, Java, Jakarta and Sumatra was a message from God for Indonesians to look inwards and evaluate themselves.
“Yes, it was God’s warning,” Marzuki said at the DPR. “It is God’s warning that we should introspect and make changes. Every incident has a meaning behind it.”
It’s a meaning many people won’t clue into because they’d rather blame disaster on God’s mood or God’s ineffable plan than look at issues rationally. The earth is both resilient and fragile. Land changes and animals adapt, but not always in a way that will benefit humanity. I don’t know why we get offended by that. Oh right, because so many of us believe the planet exists simply because a god wanted us on it. How self-absorbed and ludicrous that is. We need to adapt to changes in the environment, too, not an easy task to undertake given the way we organize ourselves.
Marzuki said it was “not good” for us to keep on debating and fighting over issues.
He said Indonesia was facing many problems and therefore it was better for all elements in society to focus on their work for the betterment of the nation.
Betterment of the nation is a great idea but telling the country, “God sent the caterpillars! Repent! Repent1!!!11” is hardly going to be the best way to get started. I don’t follow news from around the world in any in-depth way so I don’t know what social issues currently plague that nation. The earlier article provides some information about environmental issues, though, so that’s a start.
Wibowo Eko Putro, head of East Java’s agriculture agency, said the swarm could have been caused by damage to Mount Bromo’s ecosystem after recent volcanic eruptions.
Reports said the disappearance of the insect’s natural predators could also be a culprit.
“A migration of the caterpillar population took place because the ecosystem on the slopes of Bromo has been destroyed,” Wibowo said.
The agriculture chief said, however, that his theory needed to be verified by experts.
It’s never a case of something from nothing. These ecology theories are more reasonable than believing some god might have snapped his fingers and popped them all into hungry existence just to make a “love your neighbours” point. It’s just another case of trying to create meaning without encouraging real understanding.