There are those who want to improve the world around us and who do so in intelligent, well-thought-out ways. Then there are those of us whose desire to help the environment is mostly based on being bored or shallow or wanting to fit in after we get lost in Whole Foods. Unfortunately, most of humanity is made up of the latter type. Also unfortunately, a lot of the half-assed stuff we do not only doesn't help but actually ends up making things worse for everyone.
6Rescuing Oil-Covered Birds
Imagine an oil spill, and chances are the first thing you'll think of is an oil-covered bird helplessly flapping its wings. Birds rely on clean feathers to keep warm and stay afloat, and slicked birds often starve to death while grooming themselves. Understandably, after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, volunteer information focused heavily on pictures of dirty pelicans and information about helping these birds, because it's a much more effective ad than showing people wiping down rocks.
"Hold on, rocks. We'll get through this together."
How We Half-Ass It
Although it seems like something that can be done with a net, a bottle of shampoo and some dead fish, bird capture is really a job that should be reserved for the experts. But during the Gulf spill, that didn't prevent inexperienced cleanup crews from trying to chase down oiled birds, which succeeded only in terrifying them even more and in most cases driving them further away from relatively safe territory into the oily waters and away from the experienced cleaners who could have brought them in safely. Still other workers did worse, disturbing nests of endangered birds and even trampling their eggs and chicks.
"The Monday Margarita Breakfast is great for morale but hard on the wildlife."
And the survivors aren't much luckier: If they make it through the grueling cleaning process, they're often released into the wrong habitat, and depending on species and location, up to 99 percent of them then die quickly of starvation or poisoning from ingested oil. In other words, scrubbing oil off a helpless bird makes for a great photo op. But if you want to help, your time, energy and expense would be better spent doing virtually anything.