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We’re All Roadkill. Now Cars flatten animals and humans

Slate – “…Alongside washed-up Coke bottles and cigarette butts, the Anthropocene’s most ubiquitous emblem might be roadkill. The demolished deer, the obliterated opossum, the wrecked raccoon: This is the detritus of our human-dominated age. Every day in the U.S. alone, more than a million vertebrate animals meet their end on the asphalt, among them rarities like Florida panthers and ocelots. One 2020 study found that mammals are four times likelier to die on roads these days than they were in the 1960s. In the Sixth Extinction, the asteroid is an F-150. We humans are similarly plagued by our automotive society. In the U.S., car crash rates and pedestrian fatalities have recently erupted; potential culprits include “car bloat,” smartphones, COVID-related anomie, and the automatic transmission, which frees up motorists’ hands to, say, use TikTok…In a sense, roads are the ultimate expression of One Health, the concept that our own well-being is intimately linked to the planet’s. Roads simultaneously degrade nature and jeopardize human well-being: The same dirt highways that have carved up the Amazon also facilitate the spread of malaria; the same Los Angeles freeways pulverizing mountain lions are also responsible for the city’s dismal air quality. Scientists call the study of how roads influence nature “road ecology,” the subject of my recent book, Crossings—and nature includes us humans. Whether you’re a pedestrian or a porcupine, you live in the thrall of roads…”

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