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From Our Readers

The May-June 2010 special global warming issue was a timely and informative contribution to the literature of the consequences of climate change. Very few people have firsthand knowledge of the melting of Arctic permafrost, as described in Alisa Opar’s “Smoke Signals.” Indeed, the potential threat of the release of large amounts of greenhouse gases from trapped organic material is not generally appreciated. And while a need for human adaptation has not yet become apparent to many citizens, the problems facing creatures such as polar bears, narwhals, and pikas are of increasing concern [“Feeling the Heat”].

Susan Cosier’s article on rosy-finches [“Band of Brothers”] is a prime example of the kind of research needed to document adaptations of wildlife to climate change. I live at 9,100 feet in the Rocky Mountain Front Range and for 10 to 15 years enjoyed winter visits of these flocks at my birdfeeders. During spring migration and the return to summer nesting sites, the flocks consisted of hundreds of individuals. About 10 years ago, however, the flocks began to dwindle until finally I observed a single brownie sitting quietly at the feeder. I haven’t seen any rosy-finches at my feeder since. Reports from the Great Backyard Bird Count note that the birds have been observed a short distance northward and at other locations in Colorado. I suspect that the brownies have moved to more favorable summer food in response to diminishing snowfields on the Continental Divide west of my location.

The reports on bird populations by the Great Backyard Bird Count are informative, but research efforts similar to those described in your article will be essential for the analysis of wildlife adaptations. I hope that similar projects can be initiated and supported.

Clyde R. Burnett
Rollinsville, CO


I particularly enjoyed the special global warming edition, although in reality, climate change is only a symptom of the real issue: overpopulation. “Species Protection” [Field Notes, May-June], about the Center for Biological Diversity distributing 100,000 endangered species–themed condoms, is one of the first published comments I have seen recognizing this. To be fair, our knowledge has benefited greatly from the size of our population. But to continue to discuss global warming, as well as habitat loss, pollution, and other issues, without reference to the true cause is wrong, misleading, and poor journalistic practice.

Jim Blackburn
Hamilton, MT

Thank you so much for the excellent article about natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania [“Gas Pains,” Incite, May-June]. I shared it with friends and family in an attempt to educate them about the problems with this industry. The sheer magnitude of this project is overwhelming to the residents of my community. I feel deeply about the environmental hazards possible and the loss of our precious water.

Emily Sallitt
Dallas, PA

I appreciate the real information in “Gas Pains” about Pennsylvania’s deforestation. Greed is the name of the game. When will we wake up? Maybe after Shell drills in the Arctic Ocean or maybe after all the permafrost has melted. The fact that the Chesapeake CEO got a $75 million bonus and Exxon Mobil “found” $41 billion to buy out a company invested in Pennsylvania’s death and destruction should make us all march against these companies. Why not drill under the Statue of Liberty, or in the Grand Canyon? Maybe in our lifetime the wind, sun, and water will run the whole thing!

Nancy S. Van Sciver
Honolulu, HI


Here is a sample of responses to our blog posts about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. To read more, go to The Perch .

May 1: I am so incredibly saddened by this disaster. Why again did the power of money and lobby groups cause us to circumvent normal safety procedures—namely a cap for the oil outlet? When can we have some collective voice and action? I am writing to Obama, and I suggest others do, too. We need to prevent this from happening again and killing thousands of innocent animals.


May 8: I hope this tragedy awakens thousands of Americans by giving them a glimpse of the magnitude of the loss we are about to face. Our mantras must change from the selfish and shortsighted “Drill, Baby, Drill” (now “Spill, Baby, Spill”) to “Heal, Baby, Heal.”


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