nature


I know you homo sapiens, especially the males among your species, can’t wait for the special event coming up this weekend – and I don’t mean Mother’s Day.  I quake at the thought of mentioning it:  The Fishing Opener.  Why must you insist upon hooking us by the lip?  [Let your eyes follow my waving tail fin.  That’s it, follow along.  Back and forth.  You are getting very sleepy.]   Why must you insist on hooking us at all?  [You don’t like fish.  We’re hard to clean.  We’re filled with mercury.] If you can’t resist the Fishing Opener, at least give us a chance by using the catch and release technique.   [Fishing is boring.  And worms and leeches make your hands slimy. You don’t want to go fishing.  Skip the Fishing Opener.]  Take it from me, it’s more fun to say “hi” to a fish than to eat one.  [You may wake up now, as long as you’ve slept through the Fishing Opener.]

A fish incognito,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

Recently, Brett left a comment under my Which Majority? post that makes a good point.  The discussion was about global warming / global climate change and Brett said,

Advocates of global warming claim that skeptics are all paid off by the oil industry but we never hear what kind of money is being exchanged for supporting the global warming cause. Money will always confuse the issue and it is sad that we will never get a straight answer from the supposedly objective scientific community.

He is correct in saying that we don’t typically hear anything about potential conflicts of interest concerning scientists who believe we should act now to try to reverse global warming.  How many of these scientists are being paid off by the solar, wind, and ethanol energy industries?  How many are being paid to throw the research on compact fluorescent bulbs?

We could spend our time quibbling over all the conflicts of interest that happen on both sides of the debate, but this ignores the larger issue – the planet is showing evidence of warming.  Whether that warming is a natural cycle or produced by humans or some combination of both misses the point.  If the planet is warming, we are going to have to adapt and the only thing we can control is our own behavior.  There is no available temperature switch we can easily throw on Mother Nature in order to rebuild the polar icecaps.

Further, Mother Nature doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about whether we stay on this planet or not.  If we’re driven off by drought or excessive storms or disease or hunger, all the better for her to rebuild her natural resources.  The only ones who care whether we are here or not are human beings.

Setting global warming aside for the moment, we have some practical issues that we immediately need to address.  We are in the middle of an energy crisis with the cost of oil getting so high that consumers are deciding to find other less costly ways to get around.  Globally, a food shortage has developed, partially due to the hoarding of food stuffs for use in energy production.  We are also facing fresh water shortages in certain areas of the globe.  All of these are signs of our excessive consumption (and/or global climate change, if you choose to believe that it’s happening).  While these shortages may be good economically for those who control the resources, they aren’t good in the long run as far as creating a stable base of consumers.   If populations are killed off due to food and water shortages, industry will have lost a potential customer base, which means that the economy is going to contract, rather than continue to grow.  It’s an unsustainable system no matter how you slice it – unsustainable for homo sapiens, that is.

So then, we can continue on as we have been and not make any changes in our behavior until we definitively prove the cause of global climate change and find ourselves in straits more dire than we are currently experiencing, or we can figure out how we’re going to adapt by finding solutions that are well-considered  and sustainable for all sectors of society.  What would you rather do?

When homo sapiens is gone, fish will once again rule the world!!

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

Evidence that we are all fish on the inside.  A book by Neil Shubin:

Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body

With a smirk on my scaly face,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

On Saturday, March 29, 2008, Earth Hour invites people around the world to turn off their lights for one hour,  from 8:00pm to 9:00pm in their local time zone. Today, cities around the world, including Copenhagen, Chicago, Melbourne, Dubai, and Tel Aviv, will hold events to acknowledge their commitment to energy conservation.

What’s your carbon footprint?: Carbon Calculator,

Jump in the Water is Fine,

Brooke Trout

Hope you’re enjoying the jellybeans, chocolate eggs, and peeps, along with any get-togethers you may have with family and friends. It’s a beautiful, sunny Easter in Morrison County – just the respite we needed after the snow.

Even a fish needs a holiday once in a while,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

I’ve taken a couple of trips to the Twin Cities lately.  For those of you unfamiliar with our Minnesota lingo, the term ‘Twin Cities’ refers to Minneapolis and St. Paul, which are joined at the hip physically, but have distinct personalities.

On I-94, going south, I saw a billboard near Rogers.  It’s a simple billboard, with a picture of Al Gore and the words:  “an inconvenient truth: Gore Lies, Gets Nobel Prize?”  The billboard is sponsored by GlobalClimateScam.com.  I suppose they think the question mark gets them off the hook for libel.

When I see something this blatantly accusatory, I’ve got to know who is behind it.  So, when I got home, I looked up GlobalClimateScam.com.  The purpose of the group is to debunk the role human activity plays in global warming.  From the group’s About page:

“Mankind has a moral obligation to be a responsible steward of God’s creation for the good of future generations.  Protecting and preserving our earth’s ecosystems must remain a high priority for citizens of every nation.

“However, we oppose the alarmist agenda employed by most global warming “evangelists.”  In many cases, their agendas are based upon questionable scientific data and erroneous claims about global climate change. They claim the “science is settled” when, in fact, it is not.  Scientists do not agree on the cause of climate change, the role of carbon dioxide (CO2), the degree to which man contributes to atmospheric CO2, and whether global warming is anything other than a naturally occurring phenomenon. 

“Global climate changes have been occurring for centuries.  Global warming is most likely occurring today.  But there is much evidence to suggest that temperature fluctuations are part of a natural cycle of climate change, not man-made causes.  To conclude that man bears the brunt of the blame for rising temperatures is morally irresponsible and politically reckless.  Nature itself produces the greatest contributions to climate change.”

Note the use of the words ‘mankind’ and ‘God’ and the complete absolution of human beings for causing global warming.  Sounds awfully neo-conservative to me.  I dug a little further, noting that GlobalClimateScam.com was sponsored by the Minnesota Majority.  Upon arriving at Minnesota Majority’s home page, I discovered that their tagline is “Standing Together for Traditional Values.”

The term ‘traditional values’ is typical neo-con jargon and means that the group is all for legislating how people live their private lives (i.e. no abortions ever! no gay marriage ever!  follow our Christian religion and the morals we set forth always!), while at the same time claiming they want government out of our lives.  They want to allow the free market to reign unchecked and if you’re not wealthy, well then, it’s your own damn fault.  It’s the whole “pull yourself up by your bootstraps and agree with my way of thinking, but I’m not going to give you any boots” philosophy.  (Check out the site’s drop-down menu under Our Principles for the full screed.)

Funny thing, that.  I’m a Minnesotan, but I’m not a part of their majority.  I disagree with the Minnesota Majority on pretty much everything they stand for.  While it might be understandable that this li’l ol’ fish might fall into a minority of thought in the state, why is it that our state consistently seems to be a blend of both liberal and conservative values, as seen in the way we elect our government officials?  Could it be that we have two majorities?

Beware of who you allow to speak for you.  Now, the Freedom of Speech right the Minnesota Majority supports is something I can ascribe to (although I’m pretty sure the group is not going to like what I have to say).

As for the idea that human beings have nothing to do with global warming, I think I’ll listen to the ice core samples scientists have pulled out of the Antarctic that show elevated levels of carbon dioxide trapped in the ice at the point that the American Industrial Revolution started.

With frosted fins,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

I have occasion periodically to drive past the newest park in Little Falls.  Have you been there yet, or have you blown right past it without even knowing it was there?  If you’ve done the latter, don’t feel bad.  The park is barely visible from Lindbergh Drive South.   It is hidden by a berm upon which railroad tracks run.

Mill Park, as it is known, was fashioned out of the former Hennepin Paper Mill site.  Several artifacts of mill operations have been purposely left on the site, including a portion of the smokestack, brick arches, a metal spiral staircase, and a massive wall that was part of the canal’s raceway through the mill.  The City of Little Falls has made several improvements to the site, paving a long ramped sidewalk, adding railings, and laying down sod.  I can’t do justice to the site by merely describing it, so you’ll have to go see it when the weather cooperates.

For as wonderful as Mill Park is, I am concerned about its lack of visibility.  It’s been hard enough to control vandalism in more visible city parks, but Mill Park’s hidden nature is an open invitation for this sort of thing.  While I’m sure the city police patrol the area, we can’t expect them to have an officer permanently assigned to the site.  Instead, I’d like to suggest that the city create an informal Park Watch, which would be useful for not only Mill Park, but for the other city parks, as well.

Park Watch doesn’t have to be a complicated program with loads of bureaucracy.  It would be a program of encouragement.  Those of us who enjoy the city’s parks tend to have favorite ones in which we like to hang out.  As long as we’re there anyway, why not pick up any trash we see and report signs of vandalism to the police?  Once or twice a year, spring and fall, perhaps, the city could have clean-up days in the parks.  I wouldn’t make Park Watch any more complicated than this, unless maybe to provide simple badges to those who want to participate.

While I am sure there are already people who do this sort of thing, the point of Park Watch, other than keeping our parks clean and safe, would be to build community through a shared connection and pride in our surroundings.  That’s what city parks are supposed to do for us.  Park Watch would enhance the effect.

Willing to do shore duty,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

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