Bookplates and global warming

For those of you who couldn’t get to an event or already have a book and don’t want to order a second from my local guy (see my web site’s home page if you’re interested in ordering from him) what about a book plate? I’ve made this offer on the newsletter, but if you aren’t getting that, let me repeat that I have LOCKED ROOMS book plates (with the cover of the book on them) that I’ll sign for you if you send me a self-addressed, stamped envelope at P.O. Box 1152, Freedom CA, 95019. I also have a few for THE GAME left, if you’d like.

It’s five thirty in the morning, in July, in California, and rain is falling. Yet we are told that global warming is a theory that needs more research. Why is it so difficult to grasp that we human beings can have an effect on this planet? That something big can yet be fragile? Our poor children, who will have to pick their way past all these old folk with their heads firmly planted in the sand as they go and try to patch the globe together.

Actually, we’re having a very interesting cycle of events in this part of the world. I live on a piece of hillside in coastal California that straddles the transition between oak forest and redwood, with the redwoods mostly further up the creek in the dampness, and the live oaks (“live” meaning they’re evergreen) covering the hills. Last year we had a terrible time with yellow jackets (wasps, to you Brits) all up and down the West Coast. My sister and her husband got stung any number of times when they were out running, we gave up eating outside by the beginning of July, we bought one of those pop-up netting tents and were phobic about slamming shut doors. I thought about screening in part of the deck, which would have been ugly as well as making the house dark, but put it off because I knew it might be temporary.

And sure enough, this year the creatures are few and far between. The difference? Well, I noticed that the number of oak-leaf caterpillars was also much lower this year–sometimes the pool is awash with them in early spring, the ground covered with their droppings, but this year, no. I think the yellow jackets eat them. I think the caterpillar population reached a height last summer, the yellow jackets built to take care of them, and this year equilibrium has been reached.

Here endeth the lesson.

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  1. Anonymous on July 21, 2005 at 1:26 pm

    Will one from Spain do the trick?

  2. Chris on July 21, 2005 at 1:48 pm

    I don’t suppose there’s a way of providing UK postage for when you’re in the UK in September, in order to take up the Bookplate offer? Failing that, and obviously nearer the time, a note of any bookshops you may drop into when you are over here?

    Better still, can you join your chum Val McDermid on a UK book tour next year? You were a brilliant double-act when I came to your Edinburgh event for ‘Folly’!


  3. Rebecca on July 21, 2005 at 2:21 pm

    As I biology/environmental studies major, I find things like the yellow jackets and caterpillars fascinating… I love your blog because I never know what interesting thing you’ll be talking about!

  4. Anonymous on July 21, 2005 at 3:00 pm

    and butterflies are dying by the thousands because there are no flowers (or not the right kinds). I do believe we are living in a time when too many have their heads stuck in the sand, their rear ends stuck in an SUV, and think there is no global warming because the president says so! I teach college-level biology and it is shocking what young people do not know or believe today. And teaching scientific fact and critical thinking are at an all time low.

  5. CaraSusanetta on July 21, 2005 at 5:19 pm

    Apropros of nothing, except blog of the sword, I just started Locked Rooms, finally. Joke’s on me! Lots of good dream stuff in there. Kudos!

  6. Erin on July 21, 2005 at 5:43 pm

    The weather in California has been a bit weird lately. I was very confused when I walked out my door this morning to catch the bus and found that it was overcase and that the temperature was a good 30 degrees lower than usual. It’s been about 105 in Davis for the last week and a half and suddenly it is cloudy and cool. Definitely disconcerting…although I have to say that I don’t mind a break in the heat.

  7. Serenissima on July 21, 2005 at 6:33 pm

    Interesting 3-part article in the New Yorker, recently, on global warming. (Where “interesting” is suitably defined.)

    Mount Rainier is not looking so well, either. That is, it’s supposed to be white.

  8. 2maple on July 22, 2005 at 4:01 pm

    John Muir had it right: “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” The problem is we live in a very crowded world and are touching everything all at once. A Gordian knot?

  9. WDI on July 25, 2005 at 1:30 pm

    That’s an interesting idea about the caterpillars and yellow jackets; even more impressive is that you actually (1) *notice* the changes in your natural environment and (2)clearly understand enough to make rational connections among them. Like Anonymous, I teach college-level biology and work very hard to get my freshmen to do the same; their resistance can be very demoralizing. I keep telling myself that I’ve been successful if I can awaken even one or two minds every semester . . .

  10. Anonymous on July 26, 2005 at 12:58 am

    As one who comes from an artist/muscian family, biology made no sense to me in high school. “Draw what you see in the microscope.” Well — I see a blob. Then, as I was making my way through college part-time, I ended up with my last two classes to take: biology I and II. Instead, I loaded up on textbooks, diligently studied for a month, and managed to test out of the classes. And now, 20 years (or so) later as I help my teens with biology, it just seems all so amazing. My brain couldn’t understand the concept in high school. So although you biology teachers may think you’re not getting through to some students, just think of it as laying the beginning of a foundation and the light bulb will eventually turn on. As my interest in biology has bloomed, there are two books that I’ve read and recommend. “The Prodigal Summer” by Barbara Kingsolver weaves biology through three linked story lines. “The Voyage of the Beagle” by Charles Darwin, a five year voyage from 1832 to 1837 that was the impetus for his evolution theory. This gets pretty technical in some spots and I have to admit, I can’t remember any of the latin names for plants, animals – anything, but the observations he made 170 years ago are quite interesting.

  11. QweySpiral on July 28, 2005 at 3:11 pm

    I was in art school in 1981 when hubby was diagnosed with a brain tumor -I immediately switched to Biology & got my degree (’85). I worked as a cancer and aids researcher for 10 years and I’ve got to tell you the poiticians and media sure know how to put a spin on things!

    Huge sheets of ice are sheering off the glaciers near the pole! -the water temp is higher! Huge gaps in the ozone are causing epidemic skin cancers in Australia. You won’t find anyone doing cancer research asking why!

    On another note, while in college, I did a project to see how acid rain was effecting flatworms, vital component of freshwater lifecycles. I wanted to see how they thrived at different PHs -normal is 7, our local water in VA was approaching 5.

    My experiment was a failure because flatworms dissolved below a pH of 6! …very depressing.

    I am an artist and writer now. I must say it depresses me to think that our arts, which should be the legacy we leave to future generations will be lost to those descendants who will be too busy trying to save the planet from the destruction we have caused to even care about our writings and paintings.

    passing my soap box on to he next person…

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