The Balance of Nature: Ecology's Enduring Myth

By John Kricher | Go to book overview

11
Why Global Climate Is Like
New England Weather

When I moved to New England nearly four decades ago, the locals used to tell me, “If you don't like the weather, just wait fifteen minutes.” The region is well known for its fickle weather patterns, but then again, so are other areas here and there around the globe. Take Colorado, for example. On one of my visits to Colorado Springs it was nearly 70°F and clear on Sunday, but Tuesday featured a blizzard that closed Denver airport for several days. In the scale of human existence, New England and Colorado weather is, indeed, changeable. Now, stepping back to the scale of deep time, so is Earth's climate, which is simply weather on a grander temporal scale. If our lifetimes were measured in geologic time, it could be well said of Earth that if you don't like the climate, stick around for a few thousand years and it will change. It always has and it will continue to do so. Climate change is natural. It happens from various causes, to different degrees, and with different rates, but it happens. And it's important. Unless you live in a closed, windowless room with no input from the outside world, you are probably aware of the ongoing discussion or debate about global climate change. It is well known that the ten warmest years (average temperature) in the past thousand years were 1990, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006. That suggests a trend, specifically that global warming is occurring. If so, is the temperature rise due to anthropogenic causes, the liberation of greenhouse gases (principally carbon dioxide and

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The Balance of Nature: Ecology's Enduring Myth
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1: Why It Matters 1
  • 2: Of What Purpose Are Mosquitoes? 8
  • 3: Creating Paradigms 20
  • 4: Ecology B.C. (“before Charles”) 40
  • 5: Ecology A.D. (“after Darwin”) 53
  • 6: The Twentieth Century Ecology Comes of Age 67
  • 7: A Visit to Bodie Ecological Space and Time 84
  • 8: Ecology and Evolution Process and Paradigm 97
  • 9: Be Glad to Be an Earthling 113
  • 10: Life Plays the Lottery 128
  • 11: Why Global Climate is like New England Weather 140
  • 12: Taking It from the Top–or the Bottom 155
  • 13: For the Love of Biodiversity (And Stable Ecosystems?) 170
  • 14: Facing Marley's Ghost 186
  • Epilogue 203
  • Acknowledgments 207
  • Notes 209
  • Index 229
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