The future is for the birds

by Raymond Parker on January 19, 2012

in Climate, Environment, News

I awoke this morning to a strangely quiet neighbourhood. The silence was unusual, because I’m usually disturbed—often before I’d like—by footfall, voices, and the more annoying roar of engines.

When I cracked the blinds, I discovered a world muffled in white; the snow flurries of Tuesday had turned into a full-blown blizzard, driven by a rambunctious wind.

With hot tea in hand, I turned to Twitter for my morning news. No surprise, the local stream chirped out warnings of tangled traffic, and the occasional encomium to the belated Christmas card landscape.

The City tweeted for patience.

On my street at least, it seemed drivers had heeded the warning, suddenly thankful for public transit (and its dedicated operators), or perhaps Tuesday night’s black-ice-capades had put a dent in rush-hour.

I checked the TV news. Roadsides are littered with abandoned cars, transport trucks deliver their cargo into ditches, tow truck companies and plough operators work overtime. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s phones are ringing off the hook. The “traffic report” covers this as if it is normal.

Back in Twitterland, city police beg for common sense (a tall order in calm weather) on the roads.

As I prepare the hard drugs—fresh-ground Peruvian—I notice the real-world twitterverse is busier on the other side of the kitchen window. The avian menagerie has more serious work to do, consuming calories to survive the hard night ahead.

Usually, I chase these lovely creatures in thicket and bog, for no other reason than to share their company … and perhaps take home a “trophy” that reminds me of the rules of nature. Behind my camera, I try (perhaps in vain) to transcend the Age of Reason.

In my back yard, on this winter day, juncos, chickadees, sparrows and nuthatches remind me again that conservation is the foundation of survival. These little guys have no way out of the equation.

Neither do we “naked apes”–as much as we like to imagine ourselves immune to the rules that govern “lesser creatures”—have any other options, unless one imagines the exploitation of other planets. But that—as yet unrealized fantasy—avoids the most important question facing the human race: Do you want to be here?

If the answer to that question is “yes,” then the 21st century corollary is, what are you gonna do to preserve Earth?”

The hard fourth season traditionally challenges humans to examine the gifts of this place, sharing the same (perhaps in bird feeders), while hoping for a return to plenty.

The seeds of global survival are sewn locally, where neighbourhoods understand, without consulting the the stock market, the “limits of growth.”

We can plan the quiet streets we rarely experience outside of extreme weather events, before they are stilled by “future shock.”

We can make a difference. If nothing else, it’s for the birds.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add your spin! }

Ryan January 19, 2012 at 5:54 am

St. Catharines seems to have inherited BC’s winter.
We’ve only had one day of snow (last Friday), which all melted two days later with temperatures of +11C.

The past few days have been around -5, however from Saturday and onwards (at least until February) we should have temperatures ranging from 0C to +5.

I’m use to January’s with lots of snow and temperatures around -15 with a windchill to make it feel like -30.

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Raymond Parker January 19, 2012 at 9:32 am

There’s no counting on the weather, that’s for sure. However, Environment Canada is calling for rain by the weekend. Then we’ll be in for the usual coastal slush.

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Lynn Hirshman January 19, 2012 at 8:54 am

Did you note the ad below this piece for “Angry Birds”? Amazing algorithms…

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Raymond Parker January 19, 2012 at 9:28 am

Ha, ha! The ads rotate, so I didn’t get that … but I’d better go fill the feeder to keep ’em happy.

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Conor Ahern January 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm

We are still waiting for winter to arrive in Ireland. No sign of frost or snow so far this winter, for example the temperature on Christmas day 2010 was -16C this Christmas was a balmy 14C.

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Raymond Parker January 19, 2012 at 12:39 pm

14C? Wow! Mind you, as Ryan says above, eastern Canada is now basking in unseasonal temperatures. I guess you’re part of that, across the Atlantic. It’s for the birds, I tell ya!

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Conor Ahern January 19, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Not only is there a shortage of winter, but there was a distinct lack of summer in 2011. But in Ireland the most popular national pastime is complaining about the weather.

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Raymond Parker January 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm

We call it “B.C. optimism.” If someone says the weather is lovely, it is normal to reply “Yeah, it’ll probably rain tomorrow.”

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