Monday, October 26, 2009

Global Protest Puts Science at the Fore -- Sheep Don't Care


This Saturday, activists staged protests and actions in over 4,000 cities around the world designed to highlight the need to bring carbon emissions way below present levels in the atmosphere in order to safeguard a habitable planet beyond the end of this century. The movement behind the protests is spearheaded by New England environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, but the science that inspired McKibben is the mainstream view that carbon levels beyond 350 parts per million in the atmosphere will push global average warming beyond the two degree rise from pre-industrial levels that is considered safe for civilization. At the moment our levels stand at about 383 parts per million. Leaders meeting in Copenhagen late this year are expected to hammer out a treaty aimed at reducing present carbon levels, but many fear that politics as usual, even with the United States on board for the first time in the history of climate negotiations, will cloud long-term thinking. Hence the need for giving leaders a shove in the language of international street theater. The results were inspiring. See www.350.org for a slide show of the day.
Here in New Hampshire, a warm Indian summer following the heavy rain Saturday brought out out the Asian lady bugs from their burrows to hover on the tree trunks of our young apple trees. Nature tries to find a balance with the insects leading the way. On my drive to work I still love to see the strings of Canada geese forming vees in the sky westward and southward. A family of skunks, attracted by a neighbor's bird feeder, has attempted to set up winter residence, and our sheep, in protective mode, have been hit, one of the young ewes right in the face. Sunday I spent a good few hours shearing the thistle burrs out of their fleeces. I put them on the winter pasture and thought I'd mowed down the thistles, but enough of them, their royal purple blooms long gone, were still standing like petrified sentinels in the deeper grass around the old paddock, and of course that's straight where the sheep went, getting thoroughly covered on their faces and flanks with the brown little velcro life bombs that get so embedded they ruin the fleece if left to overwinter.

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