Recently, while I was digging around on the trash pile that passes for my desk, I came across an interesting letter someone sent me a while back. Well, not all that interesting, really. More strange. Or not exactly strange so much as cowardly.
People send me letters pretty often. My friend, Gretchen Holzhauer, who is a librarian in Malone, New York, sends me stuff regularly. Mostly it’s newspaper stories about what the people in the Northeastern United States do for fun during the winter (freeze). They go skating on frozen lakes (where they freeze), they have outhouse races on the frozen lakes (where they freeze), and sometimes they go swimming in the frozen lakes (where they freeze). You have to admit that, although those folks haven’t got a lot to work with besides cold weather, they at least make the most of it.
I mention Gretchen’s mail because I found one of her letters on my desk. It was about a fellow from Kentucky who went to Lake George, New York on vacation and was shot by a Revolutionary War cannon. In the leg. Which pretty much ruined his vacation.
The letter I didn’t find, which was actually the one I was looking for, was from a very nice lady in San Saba who sent me a little Coleman lantern, because I collect Coleman lanterns. She also sent me a clear, hard, plastic, 6" tube, with a neck like a 3 liter soft drink bottle. That’s how 3 liter bottles are shipped. Then they are put in a special machine and inflated with hot air to normal size. Pretty slick.
And then I ran across this cowardly, unsigned letter. It’s rather rude and derogatory, and I guess whoever sent it was afraid to sign it, but I don’t know why, exactly. It’s not like I’m Marlon Brando, and I can send Vinnie and Victor around to break legs, or something.
There was also an article included, and the letter said I wouldn’t believe the article. It also said some other rude stuff that I won’t repeat. But the point is that I do, in fact, agree with the article. What’s funny is that the person who sent me the article probably doesn’t agree with it, although he (or she) probably doesn’t realize this, because he (or she) probably doesn’t understand what the article says.
I don’t know where this article appeared, because that part is cut off, but it’s an Associated Press piece written by Seth Borenstein, who also probably doesn’t understand what the article says. Or maybe he does understand what it says, but it seems that if he does, he tries very hard in the article to make it say something else. He fails.
The title of the article is ‘Winners and Losers.’ Under the title it says, ‘Some Arctic animals doing better, but not close to pole.’ The opening line says, ‘The overall number of animals in the Arctic has increased over the past 40 years, according to a new international study. But critters who live closest to the North Pole are disappearing.’
Of course, Seth doesn’t really mean what he says, there. Animals aren’t ‘disappearing.’ Their numbers may be declining. There may be fewer of them. They may be dying out. But I’d be willing to bet an awful lot of money there aren’t any disappearing animals, at the North Pole or anywhere else.
He also doesn’t mean what he wants us to think he means. I read the entire article, looking for a hint as to which species have become extinct, and none have. Seth starts out trying to make us think whole species are dying off, when they aren’t.
Next, Seth claims that the species that have increased in number have done so because of hunting restrictions, which is most definitely not true. Canada geese, for example, have become almost numberless, even though hunting restrictions in the past decade or so have become almost non-existent.
Then Seth quotes Louise McRae, of the Zoological Society of London, who says the decline in the numbers of caribou and other arctic animals is "largely in line with what would be predicted with climate change," although Seth does say there is not enough evidence yet to blame global warming.
That’s the part I agree with. There is no evidence that global warming is causing any harm to any animals anywhere, much less in the far north. But Seth tries to make it sound like global warming is the problem, it just hasn’t been proven yet.
Of course, it would be hard to blame global warming for a dearth of caribou, since NASA has come out and said the amount of ice in the Arctic Circle is growing, instead of shrinking. But then, little details like that usually don’t stop your highly motivated, intensely dedicated climatologist. Especially if he’s got his hand in the climate change cookie jar.
The bottom line is that those who promote global warming sometimes try to do that with evidence that either doesn’t exist, or defeats the theory of global warming. Poor Seth couldn’t get anyone to actually claim global warming was killing Arctic animals, so he got someone to say that, if global warming were really happening up there, then it’s possible that what is actually going on could conceivably be a result of it.
Pretty slick, I think, the way those 3 liter bottles are inflated. And then, of course, imagined threats are sometimes inflated pretty much the same way – with a lot of hot air . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who probably should throw away most of the stuff on his desk. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org