The sky stage, set last night with countless constellations, had been changed by the time Koko and I went walking this morning to a thick wedge of moon and countless clouds in shades of gray, white, yellow and rose that hurtled across the heavens, collided, joined forces, broke apart and piled up atop the mountains.
The musical score, however, remained the same: crickets, and the wind, which whistled past my ears and through the trees and shrubs, causing them to sigh, roar, clatter, flap, squeak and flutter, and setting all the leaves to dancing. Behind us came a strange clomping sound, and we turned to see a runaway cow make a brief cameo appearance.
The Academy Awards were on last night, but I did not watch them because, as the friend whose home I was visiting and I agreed, what’s the point, when neither of us had seen any of the movies, nor we were likely to.
We had just experienced an afternoon of entertainment at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge watching whales spout and breach offshore, albatross soar and glide, red-footed boobies fight over nesting materials and nene trying to made some headway as they were buffeted by the wind.
I was glad to see the enthusiasm of the other spectators, nearly all of them tourists, who had paid $5 for a front row seat at the show. One group waited two hours for a chance to see iwa — the giant frigate birds — and was not disappointed.
Later, at my friend’s house, I flipped through her magazines and saw an article in National Wildlife about how animals are “adapting” to the global warming that some human animals still think is a hoax. As the article reports:
“The first kinds of behavioral changes were changes in range and timing," says Camille Parmesan, a biologist at the University of Texas, Austin. "Now we’re seeing changes in diets and other behaviors that show some animals are trying to adapt to their new circumstances. Unfortunately, many instances are more an act of desperation than a true adaptation.”
Since we tend to care about things only in terms of how they affect us, it’s worth noting that the habitat disturbances caused by climate change are causing polar bears to enter Inuit camps looking for food and an increase in tiger attacks on humans in South Asia.
Meanwhile, McClatchy Newspapers reported yesterday that oxygen levels in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans are decreasing dramatically, which could disrupt food chains, and thus the entire marine ecosystem:
"The real surprise is how this has become the new norm," said Jack Barth , an oceanography professor at Oregon State University . "We are seeing it year after year."
Barth and others say the changes are consistent with current climate-change models. Previous studies have found that the oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
"If the Earth continues to warm, the expectation is we will have lower and lower oxygen levels," said Francis Chan , a marine researcher at Oregon State .
"It's like an experiment," Chan said. "We are pulling some things out of the food web and we will have to see what happens. But if you pull enough things out, it could have a real impact."
The National Wildlife article, while reporting that some animals, like red squirrels, have experienced genetic changes that allow it to adapt, concludes by noting:
“Unfortunately, most species have much slower reproductive cycles,” [John] Kostyack [Executive Director of Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming for the National Wildlife Federation] says. “The climate change we’re seeing is far faster than their ability to evolve.
And when you figure that the human reproductive cycle is one of the longest of earth’s animals, how is that we think we’re going to emerge from this huge shift unscathed? Has our arrogance increased to the point where we think we’re immune to the effects of evolution?
Our own survival aside, the impacts we’re having on the environment and other species doesn’t reflect well on our God-directed duty of “dominion.” Thanks to Dawson for providing this insight from Jane Goodall’s book, “Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey:”
...I explained that many Hebrew scholars believe the word "dominion" is a very poor translation of the original Hebrew word v'yirdu, which actually meant to rule over, as a wise king rules over his subjects, with care and respect. It implied a sense of responsibility and enlightened stewardship. Then I spoke of the humility I have learned from the chimpanzees -- how we humans are not quite as different from the other animals as we used to think.
This was followed by his own observation:
Key words: care, respect, humility.
Given how people in general, including organized Christianity, act toward animals and each other, the "mis"-translation of dominion is appropriate.
But it's never too late to adopt new behaviors. Indeed, it appears our survival depends on it.