Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day and Change

This way or that way? As a large mammal, mountain lions have choices on where they can go but they are still blocked by roads and human conversion of natural lands.
Happy Earth Day. I am spending Earth Day moving my office which could be boring but has me thinking about climate change.

The biologists and real estate staff at our agency are moving into a different building. Not liking change, I've been a brat about the whole move, but on Friday when no-one was listening to my whinging, I just picked up my laptop and favorite flora and moved myself over to the new office. In an hour I had a photographic guide to a rare popcorn flower prepared for the weekend volunteer day. Much more fruitful than complaining.

It was a good feeling to know that I can do my job with just a computer and a flora. Then I went back over to the old office for a few other essentials: my coffee mug, mapbook, and most important of all, a photo of the Navigator and me in Yosemite.

While moving boxes today I'm thinking about how plants and animals adjust to change, specifically climate change. The larger animals and birds can move up- or downslope to find their preferred temperature/precipitation range, but it is not that easy for plants or smaller animals. Over several generations, plants and smaller animals may cast their offspring far enough that some will settle in a suitable new range. But it is chaos in the meantime and there will certainly be major reshuffling since the plants and animals are so dependent on each other. Some won't make it and will become extinct.

A beefly makes a quick visit to a popcorn flower I am trying to key out. I've never seen this popcorn flower before but the beefly knew about it. We're all connected.
 Wallace Stegner and Wendell Berry talk about two kinds of people who settled the American West: boomers and stickers. Boomers move constantly, mine resources quickly and then leave to capitalize on the next big boom. They are pioneers opening up places for more people, but they often leave a mess behind. Stickers settle down in a place, get to know its rich niches and how to survive the lean times. They develop a sense of place and are thrifty consumers of resources. I like to think of myself as a sticker but my father showed me all the cross-outs on my page in his address book.

People just live too long, so dealing with change is inevitable. For good or bad, we probably have a greater ability to adapt than other species. As I was unloading boxes from my truck today, I got a reminder of how some species are adapting to these human-induced changes when a deer mouse popped its head out of a stake pocket in my truck bed. I'm fairly certain that deer mouse moved into my truck at the Dipper Ranch, survived a bumpy ride into the city, and now has a totally new environment to inhabit.

Good luck little guy and happy Earth Day because now you are a city mouse. Tomorrow I get to stay at home at the Dipper Ranch and admire the ash-throated flycatchers who just returned as they do every spring. Maybe one can be a boomer in some parts of their life and a sticker in others.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderfully thought-provoking, a seamlessly stitched fabric of personal observation and big ideas. This one's being book-marked!


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