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Backyard Birding and Global Warming



It's a wonderfully stormy night here on the Cape, and I snapped the photo above just a few minutes ago... But the shot brought to mind an issue that has been bugging me for a long time, and I wanted to get it out in the open with you folks...

Deep breath...

Well, if I haven't managed to tick off every reader whose eyes have ever skimmed over this blog, this entry should fill the roster rather nicely. Yup, I'm going to post on global warming... But before I go forward into the muck of public opinion, let me just remind the reader that I've had to dog paddle my way through the mud of both a liberal arts education, and an engineering education. And both disciplines drummed home the mantra that "real knowledge" (vs. the colloquial) is a tricky thing indeed. We no more "know" the human psyche and condition, than we know the nature of the universe. Freud, Sartre, and Skinner no more gave us final fact than did Newton, Einstein, or Hawking. They offered direction, but not final knowledge. In short, beware those who state that they know global warming is or is not a function of man-made greenhouse gasses, (or if it is even happening at all).

So what have we got concerning long-term environmental change?

  • We know that the climate of the earth is changing. That we can measure. Over time, we can photograph the changes in global weather patterns and environment from space.
  • We know that the chemicals we're spewing into the land, water and air are bad stuff. If one were stupid enough to eat three-day-old city snow, he'd learn right quick that this is bad mojo. (And that is a highly repeatable and consistent experiment.)
  • According to the EPA: Latest Findings on National Air Quality: 2000 Status and Trends Report, "The IPCC concluded that humans are changing the Earth’s climate, and that “there is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.”"
  • Beyond the EPA report cited above, common sense would suggest that 6.6 billion people are taxing this old planet, as are the billions of tons of pollution we loft skyward every year.
So where is all this going? My point is that far too often, the debate concerning global warming simply reflects the scientific and social egotism of our time. Arrogance, agenda, and the oh-so-warm waters of righteous knowledge get in the way of the issue - that of the environment. Put another way, I'm suggesting that all too often we pull an "Al Gore" and trumpet the issue rather than personally addressing it. As backyard birders (and birders in general) we should be sensitive to all aspects of the environment, including global warming (whatever its causes) and act! So... Do you act? Do you carpool? Do you recycle? Do you telecommute? Do you use energy-saving appliances and lights? Do you check your car's tire pressures? Do you drive your car as infrequently as possible and share shopping chores with your neighbors? Do you keep your furnace clean??? Look, you know the drill...

I'll be taking care of the feeders even though I don't know whether it's the birds or the elements that are wearing at them... See you there maybe...


P.S. As soon as one of the experts can repeatedly and reliably tell me what my local weather will be 14 days from now, I'll start to consider the feasibility of "knowing" the global warming conundrum a century hence. Until then, I'm just going to play it safe, avoid the politics, and do the right thing.

P.P.S. This was recently in the headlines: Who's Who on Inhofe's List of 400 Global Warming Deniers

P.P.P.S. Told you that I'd tick everyone off.


EPA: Climate Change - Science - State of knowledge

U.S. Census Bureau: World POPClock Projection)

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I am worried about global warming and the effect it will have on the planet. I think that we really need to focus on how we can protect it better.

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