John Messeder

Messeder

There is something about the color of the trees after a heavy rain, like a master painter had poured an extra ration of pigment onto the canvas. There is a marked richness and intensity to the forest that wants to enfold me.

Spring rains also are like air conditioning to fish in Adams County streams. Trout like cold water. They become uncomfortable when the water temperature hits 60 degrees, and by 70 they are likely to start dying.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, must not be much of a fisherman. Or builder. He said this week all that ice melting in the Arctic is a good thing. It will chop 20 days off the cost of transporting goods between Asia and the United States, though I would not count on lowering of prices on the goods thus made less expensive to deliver.

Mr. Pompeo is not the first to make such empathy-deficient statements. In 2015, the powers that be in the state of Florida banned the phrase “climate change” in official discussion.

Actually, I don’t particularly like the phrase, either. The climate is not just “changing.” Even “warming” is a softening word. It is heating. Agricultural zones – that flower growers and other horticulturists have relied on to tell them whether certain posies and trees will grow where they are – have been moving north.

In 2012, the North Caroline legislature passed a law banning any policies based on scientific forecasts of sea level rise. Anyone who has visited the Outer Banks knows the place cannot stand much sea level rise before it disappears completely.

Several years ago, when I was reporting on the activities of a planning board in another state, a developer proposed planting a fairly large residential development on the hills west of town. A group of conservationists argued that the development would destroy the land they claimed had been untouched by human activity since the beginning of time. Runoff from the new houses and roads would destroy a wetland below the proposed construction site..

The government board and the conservation group agreed to take a walk in the woods to see, together, the pristine forest. As I walked along with the young forest protectors, I noticed through the trees a rock wall that went on for hundreds of yards.

“How do you suppose that got there?” I asked.

They didn’t have an answer.

It was the “50 years and 50 miles” concept in action: Anything that has been this way for 50 years has always been thus, and anything not happening within 50 miles has never happened.

But much longer than 50 years before that rock wall discovery, a settler had cleared trees to build a home, and defined the boundaries of his empire with a wall comprising rocks he had cleared to grow corn.

That was in the late 1980s. Climate change, or global warming, was scientifically suspected, but not publicly well recognized. On the other hand, there were those among us who understood the importance of wetlands.

Science has come a long way in recent decades. We know how much ice we had and how much seashore we had and how quickly both are disappearing. We know that melting ice from land-based glaciers will continue to raise the level of the oceans like ice cubes on a picnic table under a hot sun. People with homes in New Jersey, New York and Florida will be heading for higher ground. Some of them already have started.

Secretary of State Pompeo may be right. Arctic warming and melting could be a wonderful jobs package for builders of walls to block entry by immigrant sea water.

Readers may contact John Messeder at john@JohnMesseder.com.

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