Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Squirrels and global warming

We must have been quite a sight: Me in my p.j.'s and Granddaddy all dressed for work, cup of coffee in hand, standing outside at five in the morning staring up at the many power lines where maybe a dozen or more squirrels were traipsing back and forth like little, furry acrobats. He'd come and drag me out of my warm bed to watch with him and I'd go, because it was so quiet, only the bird chatter and quarreling squirrels, and I never had such a peaceful, but alive, feeling anywhere else, ever. (Except those fishing-together days.) We'd break the silence occasionally with a giggle, or a whispered, "Look over there!" In autumn, when the air had that edge, we'd note the bushiness of their tails, and he'd always know by that sign if we were going to have an especially cold winter. And that 'tail factor' determined how vigilant we'd be in chasing them away from our pecan tree, too. Sometimes it seemed only right to share anyway, as they'd given us so much fun in that old, tree-filled neighborhood. Sometimes I think I'd give almost anything for one more of those days...

I thought of Grandaddy and the squirrels this morning as I read this article about global warming, though this mess we're in now would break his heart. From Live Science, such an interesting site, I received a tease about "10 Surprising Effects of Global Warming. I actually read some things I'd not heard or thought of in the way of consequences. Animals are more locked in than ever to the "Only-the-Strong-Survive" paradigm. As plants bloom earlier, animals migrate earlier. "Those who can reset their internal clocks and set out earlier stand a better chance at having offspring that survive and thus pass on their genetic information, thereby ultimately changing the genetic profile of their entire population." It makes me worry a lot for those species that can't tolerate all these changes. Our most familiar and abundant creatures, like squirrels, are moving to higher ground. Their surroundings have changed the same as they have for arctic creatures, like polar bears, whose homes are literally melting.

I suppose some of these changes might be expected, some day, but others...

One of the eventualities had to do with allergies, something I didn't experience much before a dozen years ago, despite having lived most of my life in one of the seven natural "dust bowls" in the US. In addition to pollution that already plagues big cities and beyond, as the carbon dioxide levels and temps rise, our plant friends have a longer blooming season; thus more pollen. As I'm getting older, I know very few people here without sinus/allergy problems, including me! Yuck! Pass the Benedryl, please?

Other things that I'd not known or associated before with global warming: satellites in space move at a faster rate; 125 Arctic lakes have just disappeared (also more vegetation growing there now); sinkholes are developing as permafrost melts; mountains have begun to 'spring up' as the glaciers melt down. And if we want to go to Thailand and other wonderful places to see some ancient ruins, we best go soon. The "ruins are ruining." And especially my friends out West may already know this: "Scientists have correlated the rampant blazes with warmer temperatures and earlier snowmelt. When spring arrives early and triggers an earlier snowmelt, forest areas become drier and stay so for longer, increasing the chance that they might ignite."

Go to Live Science and look around. (They have a space site as well.) You can even see "The World's Most Explosive Tongue." And I'm going to stop cussing the big possum in the ditch. I'll even feed him if he'll quit chasing my cat when she sneaks out!

If you feel so inclined, dear reader, you can help right now with your signature on the '
Urge Congress to Support New Global Warming Bills' petetition.

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