More than 30 years ago, a college professor told his class pavement was partially – and considerably – responsible for warming the planet. Every time two-lane country roads are widened to federal specifications – from two barely 8-foot travel lanes bracketed by gravel berms to 12-foot travel lanes and 8-foot breakdown lanes – the local temperature increased by a few degrees. And with every new shopping center, with accompanying blacktopped parking lot, the local temperature jumps some more.
I watched a movie Tuesday night, along with more than 100 of my closest friends, many of whom I’d never previously met. It was about global warming, and about a preacher and his daughter and their disagreement over whether our home planet really is getting dangerously warmer.
We The People have a long history of preserving public land for the enjoyment and education of all of us, and for, we have been lately learning, the health of this whirling blob of mud we call home. Yet, we are destroying indigenous families and forests to make room to grow quinoa in South America, and palm oil in Asia.
Here at home, the Republican platform calls for the federal government to get out of the business of owning public lands. There is profit in those forests and canyons – oil, natural gas, coal and lumber are waiting to be harvested by industries that have little concern for the health of our grandkids. (I wonder whether those folks might be interested in giving up the thousands of military reservations we non-military peeps are not allowed to visit. I would love to visit that cave dug into the rock a few miles from my home.)
TThree Black Vultures showed up in the backyard Tuesday and headed for our stream. They were not looking for food; they craved water. They hover over us every day; that was the first time any of them landed so near our house.
Drinking water is in short supply in many wild places. We are in a time of year when water levels often are low, but Marsh Creek, in places where it normally only is low, is nearly dry. I was shooting pictures of a pair of Great Blue Herons looking for enough water to support a fresh frog for lunch when a Mallard drake swam by, about three feet over the surface of what used to be the creek. There was more water in the humid air than in the stream bed.
On a nearby fence rail, a dozen starlings sat with mouths open, panting. Other critters presumably have found shadier places to await sundown.
I went swimming in Marsh Creek last week. It wasn’t a planned exercise, but it was instructive. Global warming, it seems, has reached Adams County – a fact I had only suspected until, an hour after the impromptu dive, I’d not frozen to death.
We had gone canoeing on the creek, me with a camera – which attained a starring role in the story to follow.
I‘ve often wondered about the link between television weather guys and grocery supermarkets.
The thought came to me one evening when I lived in Maine and went to visit a friend about 45 miles from our home. The visit was to be a birthday celebration, after which we would stay overnight – the latter plan, in part, because the television weather guy had proclaimed a wicked storm would occur whilst we slept.
“In early spring 2008, two young bison bulls jumped a sagging three-string barbed wire fence separating Chihuahua, Mexico, from New Mexico in the United States. On both sides of the international line lay an unbroken grassland valley scoured almost bare by a prolonged drought, which announced itself meanly on the dusty hides stretched taught [sic] over bison bones. … Here is a landscape that has seen the birth of jaguars, the death of Spanish missionaries, the budding of Saguaro cactus, the persecution and dogged endurance of native peoples, and the footsteps of a million migrants recorded in the smoldering sands of the Devil’s Road.”
One of the principles I have offered my children and grandchildren has been that books have the power to take us places we might otherwise never visit. One such book is Krista Schlyer’s new one titled “Continental Divide.” In words and pictures gathered over several years, Schlyer, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental photographer and writer, takes us to this nation’s border with Mexico and the fence intended to block illegal humans, but instead blocks the necessary migration of the area’s wildlife. Continue reading →
Citing a lack of regulations to complain about, a U.S. District Court judge Monday ruled against a requirement for a full environmental review of fracking in the Delaware River Basin.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania townships await a ruling by that state’s top court that may determine whether traditional municipal control over zoning applies to the controversial method of producing natural gas from deep underground shale.
Last week, the Nuclear Regulatory Agency put the brakes on renewing licenses for existing nuclear-powered electricity generating plants. The agency also announced it will not be approving any additional plants – at least in the near future.
And a nuke plant in Connecticut was shut down Sunday because the ocean water on which it depends has become too warm to use for cooling the plant’s processes.
I suppose there is room for some question about whether global warming is even partially manmade. After all, scientists say, the entire globe once was a spinning molten mass.
Then, most of the northern hemisphere was blanketed in miles-deep ice. Next it became warm enough to reliably grow crops while encouraging some of its human inhabitants to, at least part of the year, wear warm clothing. So it’s getting a little warmer. What’s the big deal?
Of course, it does seem a little incongruous that certain politicians would exhort their compatriots to believe science, and then legislate denial of science that says the earth is becoming warmer and humans are helping it happen.
While some of our politicians and fossil fuel barons try, with varying success, to convince us we’re not digging up enough coal, oil or natural gas, the folks who we are told are selling us our oil are busy building a city that doesn’t need it.
For the first time in more than a half-century, the U.S. exports more fuel than it imports. We still are the world’s largest importer of crude oil, but a huge portion of the imported crude becomes exported product, including fuels. Continue reading →
I don’t know whether it’s global warming, climate change or as my spouse chooses to believe, the snow thrower we bought last year, when we thought more snowy winters to be in the offing.
I pulled the machine out of the shed in October, when we had a pretty serious snow – for South-Central Pennsylvania. About eight inches of the white stuff blanketed the ground. I cleared the driveway and the extra parking space – and have not used the machine since.
I suggested maybe we spent the money unnecessarily. Wife suggested it was money well spent.