A politician Flip-Flop by Dr. Bob Mount

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“Coastal erosion, thawing permafrost, retreating sea ice, record forest fires, and other changes are affecting, and will continue to affect, the lifestyles and livelihoods of Alaskans. Climate change is not just an environmental issue, it is also a social, cultural, and economic issue important to all Alaskans.

“Alaska’s climate is warming. While there have been warming and cooling trends before, climatologists tell us that the current rate of warming is unprecedented within the time of human civilization. Many experts predict that Alaska, along with other northern latitude neighbors, will warm at a faster pace than any other areas, and the warming will continue for decades. One coastal community, Newtok, will have to be relocated because of flooding due to the effects of warming temperatures.”

If anyone believes that the Alaska Conservation Foundation, the Alaska Chapter of the Sierra Club or any other such entity issued these statements, they would be mistaken. They were issued by Sarah Palin, then-governor of Alaska.

In 2007 Palin established a sub-Cabinet group to “develop recommendations on the opportunities to reduce greenhouse emissions from Alaskan sources, expand use of alternative fuels, energy conservation, improve land management and transportation planning.” She also instructed the group to “look into carbon-trading markets.”

Then came the flip-flop. Following the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, she called on him not to attend the international conference on climate change, stating that he might join leaders of other nations in acknowledging that warming is a “global challenge,” that he might come away entertaining “opportunities to reduce greenhouse emissions,” and that he may even begin exploring ways to “participate in carbon-trading markets.”

In December 2007, Palin acknowledged that “natural, cyclical climate trends” were occurring, and that human activity might be contributing to warming, but stated that “any potential benefits of proposed emission reduction policies would be far outweighed by their economic costs.” She proceeded to denounce “carbon-trading markets” as the “Democrats’ cap and trade proposal.”

Who says that a leopard can’t change its spots?

Much of the above was contained in a column by Eugene Robinson in a December 2009 edition of  “The Washington Post.”

In the central Florida town of Lake Mary, a woman was dragged from her garage by a 250-pound black bear and mauled. It was one of five raiding her garbage. It bit her on the head, requiring 30 staples. Officials say bears are becoming increasingly aggressive toward humans in central Florida and sightings have more than doubled since 2009. Jerry, aren’t you glad you moved to Lee County from the “Sunshine State?”

Bird-watchers should be on the lookout for Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, beautiful birds with a bright red spot on their breasts. They are migrating northward now. I’ve seen two at my feeder. This bird’s song is remarkably similar to a robin’s ‘rain song’ but is more melodious. Other birds among my favorites are Chuck Wills Widows and Whippoorwills. I’ve heard a ‘Chuck’ a few times this spring, and Dr. Ralph Mirarchi told me he heard a Whippoorwill.

In my last column I mentioned seeing Parula Warblers investigating some clumps of Spanish moss I’d hung from tree limbs next to my deck. I assumed they were searching for a suitable nesting site. They apparently decided not to nest in the moss because I haven’t seen them again. I think I know why they decided to nest elsewhere. The moss clumps were about four feet from my hummingbird feeder, and I suspect that the aggressive little hummers resented the Parulas’ invading their territory and drove them away.

Quite a while ago I made reference to the “gnat line,” the northern limit of infestations of eye gnats, Hippelates pusio, the aggravating little insects that swarm around people’s faces. In Alabama the gnat line was once the southern boundary of Barbour County but is moving northward. Last Sunday I was outside and swarming around my face were small insects that resembled H. pusio. I hope the gnat line has not yet reached Lee County, but I had never before, in Lee County, been bothered by gnats attempting to enter my eyes and nostrils. I’ll contact some of my entomological experts to determine if the gnat line has reached Lee County.

Bob Mount is a Professor Emeritus with the Dept of Zoology and Entomology, Auburn University. He is also chairman of the Opelika Order of Geezers, well-known local think tank and political clearing house. He writes about birds, snakes, turtles, bugs and assorted conservation topics.

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