Outdoors: Middle spring

Photo by Jay Anglin"Winter frogs, we got em!“ This photo taken this winter while duck hunting in La Porte County.

If you’re like me, you cringe every time you read the news. Regardless of your politics, it’s hard not to notice that most of what is reported — whether it be print, radio or TV — has been compromised by opinion.

Sometime rather recently, news sources grew wary of the extreme nature of what they were reporting and despite the traditional style of laying out the facts and letting people form their own conclusions, many journalists have made the conscious decision to help us along with our analysis, which may or may not include thinly veiled bias and opinion.

In the case of this column, if I ever do report something that would be considered news, you can just about guarantee that it will include a heavy dose of my opinion … because it’s a column, not a news story.

Since I spend so much time outside and much of my income is derived from the outdoors, I have a keen interest in the weather. On the screen of my smartphone there are at least two weather apps and multiple links to USGS water gauges open 24 hours a day. I watch the weather like a hawk.

As you can imagine, when it turns psychotic — and it has been psycho for quite a few years now — my ability to plan ahead and market guided hunting and fishing trips to prospective clients is very difficult. Sometimes it’s practically impossible.

At some point, you feel like you’ve been cursed as the weather forecast does a 180-degree change in a matter of hours, just before paying clients show up. It can be a nightmare.

People always say, “If you don’t like the weather just wait a little while and it will change” (they say that everywhere by the way). Yeah, I get it — the weather changes. But not like it has in recent years.

I’ve seen frogs every month this winter. Living, breathing, hopping frogs, right here in Northern Indiana. That’s crazy!

But, I can also recall toads trilling and dandelions bursting through the soil in January 20 years ago in Michigan. Not many of us freaked out about that, it just happened. Now it’s an ominous sign.

You’d think I would be all in with the climate change/global warming thing. Of all people, I should be the guy raising the alarm. It’s a constant topic of concern for me, of course.

As far back as the late 80s, during my brief sojourn at Ball State University, science instructors were warning us about the increasing impact man was having on the climate. Within 10 years, as I was finishing my second go around at college while attending Northern Michigan University, man-made (anthropogenic) global warming was considered fact.

Many of us were addled by a decidedly liberal mindset and an ever-present college smarty pants smugness that makes the rest of the world say, “whatever kid.” It was a common held belief that capitalism and industrialization was the culprit. Quite simply, that stuff was evil and ruining the world.

We science students would discuss these matters over Old Milwaukee longnecks while Grateful Dead bootlegs rambled on in the background. We were seeing the big picture people (LOL).

I briefly went along with the narrative, but I couldn’t help but notice that as I spent more time outside, things were actually getting better. The water was cleaner, the air more crisp.

The horrors of unmitigated pollution and environmental catastrophe were much worse in other parts of the world as far as I could tell. I’d read up on the facts and go out of my way to bring these matters up in class. We were cleaning up our messes while the rest of world was greeted by another industrial ugly morning, the factories belching filth into the sky.

Okay, I slightly reworked The Police song, “Synchronicity II” for that last part, but it fits. I can only imagine the uproar I’d create now if I played the same devil’s advocate and faced college kids that come from a generation that watched Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” when they were kids.

Every single day raw sewage and industrial chemicals are dumped into rivers all over the planet. Forests are cut down and burned so more land can be exploited for agriculture or development. Despite what people think, this country is not the worst violator — not by a long shot.

In fact, in most cases we are doing better than everybody else. We already messed things up a long time ago and now we are fixing it. But, we still have environmental guilt. It’s almost as if some environmentalists desire profound human-caused environmental calamity so they can scream “I told you so!”

The problem with global warming is that long term warming trends and erratic weather patterns are well documented. Yes, we keep hearing that every month is the warmest in history and each new year seems to be perilously close to the warmest ever (which, by the way was 2016). This is what some of my professors warned me about. Every time I hear these reports I think to myself, “Wow, they were right.”

The problem with these matters is that it’s impossible to prove that a long-term pattern isn’t just that, a natural pattern or if it’s actually more sinister.

My take is very simple: Yes, human activity such as burning forests, driving cars and raising cattle has most definitely had an impact on the climate. The questions you have to ask yourself is, how much of an impact have we had? Is that impact significant enough to make a difference in the big scheme of natural weather trends? And, is that impact irreversible?

The best course of action is to assume that the more we can do to mitigate pollution, the better off we will be. That’s a fact, whether or not you buy into the Hollywood global warming theory or not.

A cleaner Planet Earth is a good thing and each of us can make a difference. In the meantime, enjoy this “Middle Spring” we are having. I have to admit, it’s kinda nice.

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