For Richard Brinkley and others who claim that climate change is a “hoax,” I would like to share this story: I grew up in the Northeast and as a teenager in the 1950s hitch-hiked with my friends to the Southern New Jersey Pine Barrens. It was the northern range of a lot of interesting critters and the home of the iron industry at the time of the American Revolution, and we crawled and climbed through many old ruins from that time. The morning after my first camp-out I counted over 100 mosquito bites on one arm and quit counting. Mosquitoes were the modern manifestation of the legendary “Jersey Devil” as far as I was concerned. Every few trips I would also pick up a big bloodsucking wood tick.
I left the barrens behind to move to the West Coast, but returned for a period, following a job, and spent a week hiking the barrens in 1970, going through 18 “ghost towns” and touching real civilization just twice, by choice. The mosquitoes were still there.
In 1992 I was back east for a family reunion and took a friend to see my old stomping grounds. Every place we touched brush we were swarmed on by tiny, fast-moving, Lyme Disease-carrying deer ticks. Everyplace. On a mowed lawn I picked up three ticks. Toms River, our jumping-off town, had big signs advertising Lyme Disease support groups. Kids, we were told, no longer played in the woods. Things had changed over just 20 years.
There were always deer ticks in the woods, but each winter there would be a freeze and a die-off and each spring they started all over again.
Kind of like what used to happen with buffelgrass.
With global warming there isn’t that die-off, and the ticks just multiply and multiply, as the buffelgrass just continues to grow and grow.
That town of Toms River, by the way, is the subject of a new Pulitzer Prize-winning book of that name by Dan Fagin. Seems a lot of kids got cancer from a chemical company dumping toxic waste into the river and aquifer. We can’t pollute the land and air and water and expect there will not be dire consequences.