Go away La Nina, come back El Nino

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“The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now and is a growing threat to society. The pace of change and evidence of harm have increased markedly over the past five years. The time to control greenhouse gas emissions is now.” (An official statement issued in 2006 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general science organization.)

Dr. Larry Vardiman, with the Institute for Creation Research, acknowledges that global warming has been occurring for the past 30-50 years, that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing, that sea ice is decreasing, and that the incidence of hurricanes has increased. But he believes evidence that human activities are causing climate change is inconclusive. He also believes that the current warming trend may be resulting in a global climate closer than that which existed in the Garden of Eden. If he is correct, maybe that’s why Adam and Eve went naked until they decided to cover their genitals with fig leaves.

Recent weather related events may cause some of the Rush Limbaugh-Sean Hannity-Laura Ingraham worshipers to doubt the assertions that global warming and climate change are figments of the imagination of eco-freaks and that even if they are occurring humans can do nothing to reverse or stop them from happening. The hogwash that continually seeps from the mouths of these deniers on their talk shows could not possibly be considered reasonable by residents of Colorado Springs, where 350 homes have been destroyed by forest fires, by those in Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C., where 17 people have died, homes have been demolished, and 2.9 million are sweltering without electricity as a result of unprecedented storms in the Midwest and Central Atlantic states.

A deadly heat wave grips nearly every state east of the Rockies, with temperatures near or exceeding 100 degrees baking them. Alabama residents are suffering from triple digit temperatures, but are not nearly as uncomfortable as many in South Carolina, where 276 record highs occurred a few days ago. A scorching 113 degrees was reported in Johnston and Columbia, SC, and 1,456 record high temperatures have been recorded in South Carolina during the past seven years.

A recent flood in Minnesota was the second worst-ever disaster recorded in that state, causing $100 million in road and infrastructure damage and displacing hundreds of residents from their homes. Tropical storm Debbie dumped more than 26 inches of rain in parts of Florida. Seven people died as a result of the floods, which affected the state from the Panhandle to Tampa. Water up to the rooftops was reported in the North Florida town of Live Oak.

Quite a few years ago when I was still teaching herpetology, Florida’s Suwannee River overflowed its banks inundating several thousands of acres of surrounding lowlands. Some of my students took canoes and paddled around searching for snakes. They returned with sacks full of the critters of numerous species, some of which were rare. Most of the captives were returned and released after the floodwaters receded. I assume herpetologists from Florida and elsewhere are having a field day observing and collecting snakes, lizards, and salamanders forced from their hiding places in the flooded areas of Florida. If I was 20 years younger, I would be among those “herp hunters.”

The water level in my pond is as low as it has ever been, but still supports breeding populations of several species of frogs. The baby Fowler’s toads, many of which moved to higher ground following transformation from tadpoles, have obviously desiccated from lack of moisture. A few weeks ago, there were many thousands of baby toadlets hopping around in the yard next to my house. Now, the only ones I see are a few hundred that emerge from their hidey-holes each evening when I water my vegetable garden. They feed until sunrise the following mornings and then retreat to their shelters. I assume there will be enough toads left to reach adulthood and breed next spring. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to provide my “garden toadlets” with sufficient water to keep them healthy, and pray for a return of El Nino to replace La Nina as the dominating weather phenomenon. El Nino typically results in wetter than usual weather during fall, winter, and spring months in the Southeast.

Bob Mount is a Professor Emeritus with the Dept of Zoology and Entomology, Auburn Univ. 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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