Informed citizens can protect the environment
The Wildlife Forecast
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Media contact: Patricia Behnke
"Bless you," my coworkers shout out several times
each morning. My gray car turned yellow with pollen extra-early
this year, and my sinuses did not handle it well.
An early, powerful spring escalated this year into
one powerful economic boon for antihistamine manufacturers and
allergy doctors. We Floridians suffer through knowing that soon
summer humidity and heat will drive us to seek air-conditioned
But wildlife may not fare so well with the
continued disruption to the seasons they depend upon during their
The National Wildlife Foundation recently published
a report stating that spring now arrives 10-14 days earlier than it
did 20 years ago. Climate change has been the suspected culprit.
However, a gentleman recently stopped by my office to tell me he
was certain global warming was a hoax, because Venice had not sunk
into the ocean. What's a gal to think?
As I sifted through all the materials to learn why
this spring seems to be so powerful, I found myself thinking about
the past. I remember a tractor driving around the small town where
I lived in the late 1950s and early 1960s. One man drove the
machine with a large horizontal tank on the back spraying white
clouds of poison to kill the mosquitoes that grew to the size of
flies during a northern summer. My mother would admonish me to come
inside for a few minutes until the clouds disappeared. By that
time, all the insects and small wildlife in the tractor's wake were
probably decimated. I would venture back outside and play in the
yard, only smelling the lingering odor of the sweet DDT lying in
wait in the grass.
All the while the birds in the sky choked to death
- a very visible sign to herald changes in the way we viewed the
environment and wildlife.
If the disappearance of the bald eagle and other
birds did not give enough proof of the damage being done, Rachel
Carson, a writer and biologist, wrote "Silent Spring" in 1962,
recounting her findings of the destruction of wildlife as a result
of the indiscriminate use of pesticides to fight the insect war.
Her writing led to the birth of an environmental movement. By 1970,
the Environmental Protection Agency was formed, with the mission of
"working to protect human health and to safeguard the natural
environment - air, water, land - upon which life depends." With the
growing concern nationwide that began with the publication of
"Silent Spring," the EPA banned the use of DDT by 1973, just in
time to save the national symbol - the bald eagle - from certain
Carson brought awareness, but some disagreed with
her. One publication compared her to Sen. Joseph McCarthy because
of what they deemed her intense desire to destroy industry and
agriculture in this county. Unfortunately, Carson died of cancer in
1964, and never saw the positive fruition her book yielded as it
became the foundation for an ecology-minded public.
What would Carson say to us today? She wrote, "The
public must decide whether it wishes to continue on the present
road, and it can do so only when in full possession of the
Those words are as true today as they were back in
1962 when she wrote them. No matter what we believe as individuals,
it is imperative that we read everything we can and decipher what
is true and what is propaganda. An intelligent public can only make
wise decisions based on informed and science-based information. If
you doubt spring is coming earlier or pollen count is higher this
year, and your yellow car or red nose is not the proof you need,
read as much as you can from reliable sources, such as the
climatologists who are responsible for studying such things. A
recent survey of climatologists who are currently publishing in the
field show that 97 percent of them think temperatures are rising
and humans are partially responsible for that rise.
"The public should have access to the very best
scientific information available to make informed decisions," said
Doug Parsons, the head of the FWC's climate change team. "Our job
in managing wildlife as changes occur is enhanced and assisted by
the public's awareness and cooperation."
To that end, this month the FWC launches a new
website on climate change. At your fingertips, you can access a
wealth of materials that can assist you in understanding this issue
and what actions you can take or not take.
After DDT was banned in this country, many of the
species nearly decimated through the uninhibited use of deadly
agents revived. The bald eagle has now been removed from the
Endangered Species list and thrives.
Visit the new website at MyFWC.com/ClimateChange.
By becoming informed, we can conserve our wildlife, and that's
nothing to sneeze at.