Collectively we don’t put anywhere near as much resources into to monitoring the quality of our environment as we should. For example, we put the burden on the proof of dangerous chemicals on the complainants instead of the producers.
This means that it takes a lot of money and resources to actively go out and check our environment to see whether what we humans do—developing, pollution, warming, etc.—have an effect on the health of our environment. And mostly, unless we actually see our rivers catch on fire, we don’t look for problems. We like to assume that Nature can take care of itself, which it can if you don’t count our survival into the equation.
But one of the resources we do have for helping us monitor the state of our environment with relatively little cost is birds. Birds, because of their high metabolism and widespread traveling, offer us an insight as how they are doing, which in turn gives us an idea of how we are affecting our environment . Check this out:
The State of the Birds 2011 "The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and partners launched the 2011 State of the Birds website on May 3. This ground-breaking report used eBird data to determine the distribution of birds on public lands and waters. More than one-third of land and all oceans in the U.S. are owned by the American people, yet until now the importance of these public lands and waters to our nation's birds had not been quantified. For the first time, eBird data revealed that public lands support more than half of the U.S. distribution of more than 300 bird species! The report shows the tremendous importance of public lands for bird conservation and identifies the most important opportunities for public land agencies. " Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology