Do the geese talk all the way? It’s work enough — winging from Canada’s marshes to America’s heartland — without also flapping one’s bill nonstop. That appears to be the case, however.
All I know is that when the Canada geese are over my head in in Colorado, south-bound now, they are talking. And I presume it’s not my head they talk about.
They could be discussing strange doings in our climate. Enough weirdness is happening in it to dominate a conversation across time zones — not that you’d think so if you listened to conversations on the ground. By the silence, one would believe the human species to be oblivious.
We are completing one of the most scorching summers ever, on the tailwinds of a year — 2010 — that tied with 2005 as the warmest on record. This despite a colder-than-normal winter in many parts of the country.
Where I live, I expect another extenuated autumn. It was beyond spectacular last year — the colors exploding like an end-time fireworks display. That was caused, however, by something unsettling and not healthy: the fact that winter did not want to come. That's just what pine beetles like to hear.
Climate change is helping turn the Rockies brown as the pine beetles eat with vigor. Only extreme and prolonged cold snaps in the high country, the norm generations ago, will stop them. Not now.
In my old nesting ground of Texas, August began in May this year temperature-wise, and never left. A stunning aspect of photos of fires in Central Texas that have destroyed hundreds of homes is the ground vegetation that hasn't burned. It isn't just brown. It is February brown. The question now: When will actual winter come to offer relief?
The fact is that seasons are growing seriously out of kilter, and no one senses it better than geese and other migratory birds.
A 2007 study found that climate change increasingly was disrupting migratory patterns for birds, who rely on temperature to tell them when to take flight. The longer they hang around a locale — and the concern is that some migratory species will become “residential” — pertinent food supplies become depleted, with species at risk.
As Reuters environmental correspondent Alister Doyle writes, migratory creatures are the “most visible indicators of dramatic change” in Earth’s climate. That’s saying something, considering the droughts, heat waves, shrinking glaciers and monster storms now emblematic of a climate in flux.
The only thing not changing regarding our climate is our political system’s response to it.
It doesn’t matter at all what the vast majority of climatologists say. Politicians are backpedalling furiously from the truth, and the evidence. Some of them, like information scavengers, seek any point of contention in the scientific community to assert that, “See? No agreement on this matter. So, we'll keep doing what we do. False alarm.”
It is starting to look like the mere discussion of climate change, as with any meaningful discussion or action about the proliferation of guns in this country, is a nonstarter in Washington, for the simple reason that discourse is dictated by lobbies and the next election cycle.
Speaking of discussions, the National Academies of Sciences had an extensive one recently and said this:
“There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However, there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring.” Additionally: “It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities.”
That sounds authoritative. You can hear what you want out of those quite assertive words, but you can’t ignore them.
Why are the geese talking, and not those of us with higher-order communicating skills?
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.