Yellow Jackets, hurricane Sandy and election returns

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The yellow jacket season, when those insects are most abundant and troublesome, usually begins in late summer and, in most years, ends in mid-November in these parts. Beginning about three months ago, they began bothering me when I was sitting on my deck in late afternoon. I saw an ad in one of the numerous catalogs I receive depicting a “yellow jacket trap.” “It really works,” the ad stated, and I ordered one. It’s a plastic gismo about six inches in height and has a number of tubular openings. Instructions say to place a cupful of sugar-water and a piece or two of fruit in the trap, which I did, and placed the trap on my deck rail. And it did work. For the next six weeks or so, it was trapping and drowning as many as ten yellow jackets each day, and when I was sitting on my deck, most of the little buggers were concentrating on the trap and not buzzing around me. Lately, only four or five are trapped. I’m convinced the trapping has reduced the yellow jacket population around my place by 1,000 or more. I’m surprised the trap is not being advertised on TV.

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Superstorm Sandy is convincing more and more doubting Thomases that global warming and accompanying severe weather pose serious threats not only to natural ecosystems but to the economy and the vitality of human populations as well. Emblazoned on the cover of the Nov. 1 issue of Bloomberg Businessweekly, a conservative, pro-business publication was the proclamation, “It’s Global Warming, Stupid.” Author Paul Barnett writes “More and more credentialed experts are inclined to shrug off climate change (skeptics). The broadening consensus is that climate change amps up other basic factors that contribute to big storms…the oceans have warmed providing more energy for storms. And the atmosphere has warmed, so it retains more moisture, which is drawn into the storms and is then dumped on us. Even those of us who are science-phobic can get the gist of that…”

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who, prior to the arrival of Sandy, stated his intention not to become involved in the presidential election has announced his “eleventh hour decision” to endorse the candidacy of Pres. Obama. “The lethal superstorm made it clear that global warming must be addressed, and Obama is best prepared to tackle the problem,” said Bloomberg, adding that “Romney has reversed his course, abandoning the pro-environmental positions he held as Governor of Massachusetts.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was the first politician to publicly link the superstorm to climate change, urging governments and the public to take note of the consequences likely to occur if the world continues to ignore the phenomenon.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

In addition to the superstorms, floods, forest fires, droughts, melting glaciers, and infestations of mountain pine beetles destroying forests in the western states, another report strengthens the argument that global warming and climate change are occurring. Kudzu is spreading northward. It has been found as far north as Ohio, and in one place in Canada, for goodness sakes! It’s becoming increasingly apparent that there is more fact than fiction in Al Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth…” Gore has been fairly quiet in recent months, but he has made the following statement, “Hurricane Sandy is a disturbing sign of things to come. We must heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis. Dirty energy makes dirty weather.” I may be wrong, but I will make this prediction. Sooner or later, Al Gore Jr. will be regarded as a prophet in our times, not a religious prophet, but “a person gifted with profound moral insight.”

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I’m writing this on the day before the election, and I’ll make another prediction. President Obama will win the election. Dear readers, by the time this column is published, I will be saying “I told you so,” or I will have crow feathers protruding from my mouth.

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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