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The U.S. is part of the Earth

Posted on Jan 20, 2014

Continuing my recent theme of considering philosophical concerns in regard to conservation and education issues I wanted to discuss a problem that is persisting well into the 21st century: that America is the center of the universe and anything that happens outside of its boundaries is irrelevant in terms of our natural world. The most recent example of this is the outbreak of arctic air that poured into the U.S. We’ll be having another cold snap this week and most of our mainstream media, including “pundits” who have political agendas denying climate science, will go back to talking about how very cold it is. Brrrr! Did anyone check in with Australia lately? The country was scorching for all of 2013 including – gasp – times where we were cold during the winter! I keep reading about or hearing from friends and acquaintances there that the heat has been brutal recently in their relative sense. Check out this cool (ha ha) infographic from Australia’s Climate Council website.


The wildfires, drain on the power grid and even rain of dead bats from the sky do not sound like a healthy environment for wildlife or humans. This more recent graphic from NOAA depicts how the “polar vortex” has been a bit odd as of late, moving around in broken chunks that helped to give us a deep freeze while other areas in the northern hemisphere were far warmer than normal.



These kinds of occurrences are becoming more common and may be related to climate change and the also more frequently noted wavy and volatile jet stream movements, as you can see here on the NOAA climate site. That jet stream movement was likely to blame for helping the northeast get pounded with sometimes historic winter weather in the last several years all the way to possibly navigating Hurricane Sandy to our shores. The point is that we are a part of a global system and we should be extremely aware of everything going on regardless of artificial geographical borders. It’s natural to be selfish, certainly, and I’m personally sick of the below average temperatures in my area. However, we should remind ourselves that watching the entire world and its weather and climate is best for every single one of us and the natural world we love.

There’s even too much of a bias to focus on the most populated area of the country – yep, the northeast again. California is in the middle of a historic drought disaster and they are setting records for both the dry earth and the hot air. This fantastic video from Paul Douglas of WeatherNation, my new favorite TV channel, discusses California’s problems and more of what I was just referring to.

Remembering that we are part of the entire Earth system is vital to conservation beyond weather and climate. Where are so many of our birds right now? They’re in Central and South America enjoying a far different reality than we are in countless ways. They will be returning to our lands in a few short months, and they are one of the main reasons RTPI is working for conservation and education in tropical locations in multiple countries. The next blog post from Twan will discuss more of this research and why it is so critical to our planet’s health and the well-being of our backyard friends.


Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator