FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Year the Canaries Came Home to Roost

by ALAN FARAGO

For my final essay of 2013 I am going to (again) write about climate change. This seems to be the year of the canaries in the climate-change coal mine. “Seems”, because at the risk of repetition I have been on that metaphor from the moment I started on the environment.

Back in the late 1980’s I wrote about serial algae blooms in northern Florida Bay. Although the scientists were scratching each other’s eyes out at the time — on the facts and cause –, it was clear that nothing could stop amorphous, amoeba-like blobs from destroying a vast, extraordinary piece of the Everglades ecosystem.

Nothing but government action to reverse decades of water mis-management that accrued to the benefit and upstream profits of Big Sugar. But the deniers controlled the levers of government: it was the time of Ronald Reagan, James Watts and the Wise Use Movement mobilized through the precursor to the Tea Party, called then the Sagebrush Rebellion — against government and especially against environmental regulation — and its Florida Keys branch, the Conch Coalition.

Even the scientists have stopped arguing. Florida Bay is, for all intents and purposes, converted to a blighted remnant that mainly hosts scavenger species. There are still a few trophies left. They are bewildered stragglers. Just go to a few restaurants in the Keys to see the photos on the walls — like the Square Grouper on Summerland Key or Stouts on Marathon Key — to see what was only a generation ago.

As those early algae blooms were canaries in a coal mine to the fate of Florida Bay, so is the degradation of our coastal waters in Florida a canary in the coal mine for land-based natural resources. The state, recently claimed the third most populous in the United States, is awash in a sea of pollution — the toxic form of mercury flows in the middle of the Everglades in degrees that make it one of the world’s hot spots. In other words, the canaries in the coal mine are everywhere.

Superstorm Sandy. Ice storms, now, through much of the nation depriving millions of electricity while serial cold fronts sweep through. And in Miami? Just yesterday I had the AC repair out: the humidity busted my air conditioner. I asked the repair guy had his business ever been so good in December? He just shook his head. The other day I asked a motel owner in the Keys, have sea levels been rising? He confided, I’m a climate change denier until I sell my property.

Yesterday, the New York Times published an important story, “Spared Winter Freeze, Florida’s Wetlands Are Marching North“. “(Dr. Gruner) said that scientists needed to start considering changes beyond just average temperatures as they analyzed the environmental consequences of climate change. More surprises are likely in store, he said. “I don’t like to think about it, quite frankly,” he said. “It’s a little scary.”

“Patrick Gillespie, a spokesman for Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, offered no specific comment on the new paper. By email, he said the agency had indeed “seen an increase in mangrove habitats to the north and inward along the Atlantic coast. It’s difficult to determine whether this is good or bad for the ecosystem because it’s happened over a relatively short period of time and may be a result of many factors.” Tell that to the insurance industry, Mr. Gillespie, your boss, Gov. Rick Scott, and Senator Marco Rubio-who-still-refuses-meeting-with-climate change scientists.

So there you have it: 2013, the Year of the Canaries In The Climate-Change Coal Mine”. Unpersuaded? Watch Malcolm Gladwell’s “How much proof do we need”, beginning with the literal coal mine and the canary. That would be, us.

Alan Farago is president of Friends of the Everglades.

Alan Farago is president of Friends of the Everglades and can be reached at afarago@bellsouth.net

February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
Jim Goodman
Congress Must Kill the Trans Pacific Partnership
Peter White
Meeting John Ross
Colin Todhunter
Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist
Ralph Nader
They’re Just Not Answering!
Cesar Chelala
Beware of the Harm on Eyes Digital Devices Can Cause
Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
Eoin Higgins
Please Clap: the Jeb Bush Campaign Pre-Mortem
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Invisible Epidemic: Radiation and Rising Rates of Thyroid Cancer
Andre Vltchek
Europe is Built on Corpses and Plunder
Jack Smith
Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again
Robert Fantina
As Goes Iowa, So Goes the Nation?
Dean Baker
Market Turmoil, the Fed and the Presidential Election
John Grant
Israel Moves to Check Its Artists
John Wight
Who Was Cecil Rhodes?
David Macaray
Will There Ever Be Anyone Better Than Bernie Sanders?
Christopher Brauchli
Suffer Little Children: From Brazil to Flint
JP Sottile
Did Fox News Help the GOP Establishment Get Its Groove Back?
Binoy Kampmark
Legalizing Cruelties: the Australian High Court and Indefinite Offshore Detention
John Feffer
Wrestling With Iran
Rob Prince – Ibrahim Kazerooni
Syria Again
Louisa Willcox
Park Service Finally Stands Up for Grizzlies and Us
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail