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Sharknado 3: Oh, Hell No!

Larry Wines: And the most lethal-to-humans creature of all? Claiming 130 deaths a year, deer. Mostly from road collisions or swerving to avoid them, then crashing and wrapping yourself around a tree.

It premiers tonight. It'll bounce tv's new Trumpathon fixation, at least for a few days. MSNBC and CNN shows have been doing segments since last week on what no one can doubt is, at best, abhorrent stupidity. But, in a society with increasing backlash against environmental concerns, this endless theme of "nature is trying to kill you" is much worse than that.

Sharknado 3

Seriously. They get part of the title right: "Oh hell no." And let's to get something straight: I'm not open to being told, "But it's just this fun bloodthirsty movie about sharks that are, like, y'know, serial murderer sharks on killing sprees!"

I don't give a lobster's rosy red ass if it's supposed to be "campy."

Let's get real. On average, one person per year dies of a shark bite in the US. That compares shockingly to human deaths caused by run-ins with other species in this country.

Each year, 58 people die from bee, hornet, or wasp stings. Six humans a year die from venomous snakes or lizards. Jellyfish stings account for 40 deaths a year, and venomous spiders for another seven.

Don't be taken in by that wagging tail. Dogs are deadly, since 28 people die from being bitten or mauled, or simply from falling over them. And there's all that killer livestock, with 20 deaths a year caused by cattle and another 20 by horses.

And the most lethal-to-humans creature of all? Claiming 130 deaths a year, deer. Mostly from road collisions or swerving to avoid them, then crashing and wrapping yourself around a tree. (Hmm. A killer tree. But let's not give Hollywood any more stupid ideas.)

Compared to one death a year, sharks are pikers. It's those commando Bambis that should have us tracking the kids with webcams.

But the "Sharknado" — the now three feature-films worth of "sharknadoes" — is the epitomization of making humans into fast food, with shorter time in the drive-through than the killer dinos in Jurassic Park, old franchise or lame remake.

It's the unfairly maligned shark that remains the favorite creature that unaware people love to hate. And the ongoing damage brought by mislmpression and irrational fear brings plenty of reasons to cringe.

  • First, with global shark populations in serious decline, we're supposed to vilify sharks?
  • With myriad issues of the health of sharks and other species that are directly due to the collapse of numbers of sharks as the chief pelagic (open-ocean) predator, we're supposed to imagine they lurk everywhere, just waiting to eat us?
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  • From multiple species of fish and shellfish overfished for food, while the propagation of their species' depends on descending from weak individuals experiencing no predation, and instead breeding and passing-along less-hardy characteristics to dwindling stocks of fish populations?
  • To justified alarm that critical links in oceanic food chains are being removed or simply vanishing?
  • To issues of the health of coral reefs that create multispecies communities, true ecosystems, which, by and large, suddenly are not healthy, and in some places, going extinct?
  •  To problems extending all the way to decline of the ocean's ability to absorb massive quantities of CO2 without harming sea life?
  • To the oceans' continued ability to produce a major share — anywhere from 50-85% — of the planet's oxygen?

Wait. HUH? "50 to 85% — WUUUUT?"

Scientists believe that tiny ocean creatures called phytoplankton, all by themselves, contribute between 50 and 85 percent of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere.

They aren’t sure because it’s a tough thing to calculate. In the lab, scientists can determine how much oxygen is produced by a single phytoplankton cell. The hard part is figuring out the total number of these microscopic plants throughout Earth’s oceans. Populations of phytoplankton vary hugely. They wax and wane with the seasons. Phytoplankton "blooms" happen in spring when there’s more available light and nutrients.

So, if anybody wants to make a scarey movie about nature adjusting to abuses from human activity, and adjusting in a way that looks like things are "turning on us," the science is there to drive that narrative to fuel that plot.

But "Sharknado"-? Everything is connected to everything else.

Shark fin soup is a Chinese delicacy that is believed to "give strength and long life." That particular lunacy is believed with NO scientific justification whatsoever.

It is THE chief reason why sharks are in trouble.

Half a world away, off the coast of Ghana, Africa, fishermen are, for the first time, fishing for dolphins — to use as bait to fish for sharks to sell into the Asian market. Traditionally, Africans do not eat shark. And traditional coastal African fish stocks are in sharp decline due to pressures from overpopulation, drought destroying land-based agriculture, and resulting famine. So fishermen are being adaptable while trying to cash-in on Asian food fetishes. And it's all pushing oceanic ecosystems toward collapse.

You want a scarey shark story? There you are.

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So, watching tonight's premier of 'Sharknado 3" on SyFy? Oh hell no.

Larry Wines