Over the past few months, I’ve been having some conversations with various people about an Adirondack Park Agency regulation that caught me by surprise when I heard about it. What is it? It’s that all new wilderness camping sites must be at least 150 feet from a water front or trail, and any existing site must be relocated to that distance if it requires reconstruction. Considering that my job does mean keeping up with regulations, it was the first I’d heard of it, hence part of my shock. The other part was being incredulous that it was thought to be a good idea.
One of the sights you see in spring here in the Adirondacks is that some of the fir trees have big square holes dug into them. The explanation for them is that woodpeckers make them. The question I often had was: Why? You see, it’d be understandable if they were digging out a nesting hole, except that the holes aren’t high up, they’re usually waist level or lower. They’re also not obviously going after something like a grub which would be nearer the bark of the tree. This spring, I finally got my answer as to what was happening.
At long last, it looks like Spring has come to the Adirondacks to stay. While the snow has (finally) melted, a week ago that was in doubt as a snowstorm hit the area with temperatures falling into the upper 20’s. The leaves are appearing, the birds have returned and are starting to build nests, flowers are starting to appear, and in general things look to be warming. The tourist season starts next week, although trout season is already on us with various enthusiasts lining the local streams trying to catch some nice brook trout or brown trout.
One of the things that has caused me to lose serious respect for many environmental action groups is their hysteria over genetically modified organisms. Their attacks rely on a lot of junk science, and some other things:
Well, it owes to a mishmash of anti-corporatist ideology, natural fallacy (GMOs are not natural!) and precautionary principle extremism. But here’s the odd thing. If you read through the reader responses to the NRO article, you’ll see lots of GMO-fearing conservatives who also hate Monsanto.
Over the years I’ve seen more crap about this than anything else. It doesn’t help at all, and particularly when you have well-known people pushing it through sloppy, plagiarized books and using their reputations as an appeal to authority. It needs to change.
Recently, there was an opinion piece about how a certain area of state land should be classified. The author, who works for an environmental advocacy group, was arguing for the strictest classification, and then went on to discuss how to limit access as well as what facilities should be constructed and where. My reply comment was “Great, and just who do you think is going to do this?” This isn’t the only time something like this has happened. I had a similar response to another group a few years ago that was trying to advocate for the creation of a new national park. Why would I make these responses? Because I’m for parks.
Last week I talked about the anti-vaccination groups and the problems they cause. Yesterday, Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy had a much more detailed diatribe about that, and one of their media spokespeople:
McCarthy is the most famous face of the anti-vax movement. More than perhaps anyone else she has mainstreamed the incredibly dangerous claims of the anti-vaxxers, saying vaccines gave her son autism and that she cured him using what are known to be noneffective treatments. She decries vaccines as toxic, yet boasts about getting injected with Botox, which in reality contains the single most deadly protein toxin known (botulinin). What she says is phenomenally dangerous, and I consider her claims to be a substantial threat to public health.
I recommend reading the entire thing, along with the imbedded links.
My work takes me into the woods during a good part of the year. While most people are looking at the views, admiring wildflowers, and trying to see wildlife, I’m constantly scanning the area for enemies. When I’m out on the water, or standing on a stream bank, I’m looking for them as well. Am I a paranoid nut, or suffering from PTSD? No, I’m a biologist, and I’m looking for something else: Invasive species. They’re out there, some are here, and some are coming.