Na­ture: Signs and por­tents.

The McLeod River Post - - Front Page - Ian McInnes The McLeod River Post

Novem­ber 30 should mark the end of 2017’s hur­ri­cane sea­son and there will likely be many sighs of re­lief. I say should be­cause na­ture is not renowned for ob­serv­ing dates. This year’s sea­son has been bad, Har­vey, Irma and Maria; Irma broke records for storms. As I write to­day all is quiet on the At­lantic storm front. I hope it re­mains that way.

Storms hap­pen every year and when they’re par­tic­u­larly bad in re­cent years then cli­mate change comes to the fore. Fore­cast­ers did pre­dict more storms for 2017 and warmer sur­face ocean tem­per­a­tures, com­bined with a strong West African mon­soon ap­par­ently made for per­fect hur­ri­cane brew­ing in the Caribbean Sea and the trop­i­cal At­lantic Ocean.

When peo­ple are dev­as­tated by storms, lives are lost and prop­erty and in­fra­struc­ture is de­stroyed and dam­aged. It can take years, even decades to re­cover and the fi­nan­cial losses can wreck bud­gets for a long time to come. The trou­ble is that it takes such a long time for us to es­tab­lish a pat­tern in na­ture that by the time the guys at the top fig­ure it out, it’s too late. I’ve been say­ing that for years. Not that it makes any dif­fer­ence. There will be more, less or the same num­ber of storms next year. What­ever pos­ture our lead­ers take.

Some­thing we can mea­sure and need to take note of is melt­ing per­mafrost. Com­mu­ni­ties in Alaska are in cri­sis as the ground melts be­neath them. I’ve read re­ports that it’s hap­pen­ing in the Cana­dian Arc­tic and Siberia too. Not only is the ground chang­ing, af­fect­ing vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing on it, there will be cli­mate change gasses, no­tably meth­ane, be­ing re­leased too and no doubt some or­gan­isms, seeds, bac­te­ria and viruses that have been locked away for maybe mil­lions of years. Some of them will be be­nign, use­ful even, oth­ers, well, if you’ve seen the For­ti­tude se­ries you may have rea­son to be con­cerned. Take all that and add in meth­ane bub­bles burst­ing out from the Arc­tic Ocean and I think that man made cli­mate change is noth­ing com­pared to what na­ture can do and now, I think, is do­ing. Wast­ing time, money and ef­fort ar­gu­ing about if it’s hap­pen­ing or not is likely go­ing to look pretty silly when we look back.

Now, in­sects. They’re a pest and I’m sure we all wish that were less fly­ing biters. A re­cent study out of Ger­many has alarmed in­sec­tol­o­gists and more. Re­searchers took sam­ples from 63 na­ture re­serves across the coun­try and con­cluded that fly­ing in­sects have de­clined by over 75 per cent since 1989. The rea­son is un­known, the ef­fect of ecosys­tems and pol­li­na­tion could be cat­a­strophic. I read that a sci­en­tist in Ot­tawa was say­ing pretty much the same thing about Cana­dian fly­ing in­sects ear­lier this year. Can we do some­thing to re­dress the bal­ance? Again, by the time the ar­gu­ing ends as to is, how and why it may be too late or a very long haul back.

I’m go­ing to fin­ish on U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump who has long pro­fessed scep­ti­cism on cli­mate change. Maybe he’ll end up like the Vice Pres­i­dent in the Day Af­ter To­mor­row movie? We’ll see. Trump seems to be al­ways in the news and usu­ally on the end of a row or start­ing one. Fallen U.S. sol­diers and his and other Pres­i­dent’s ac­tions about them, fake news, North Korea of course and the on­go­ing Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion. I ex­pect I missed a few out too. I did read an ar­ti­cle about the 25th Amend­ment of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. Ba­si­cally, it seems a Pres­i­dent can be re­moved if he is deemed men­tally un­fit to hold of­fice. It looks to be a long shot and a long haul but ul­ti­mately doable. A bit like Star Trek when bones tells Kirk he’s too nuts to be in com­mand. It’s a lot eas­ier on TV. One might won­der why a can­di­date for the U.S. Pres­i­dency is not com­pul­so­rily checked out by in­de­pen­dent medics. As Home Simp­son would say, “Doh.”

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