A new report on abrupt climate change doesn’t necessarily say the sky is falling but portrays a complex world that it is clearly undergoing great change. Some change has been wrought by humans and some seems unrelated to our presence on the planet. The Southwest may be drying up, although we didn’t necessarily do it. Greenland and Antarctica are melting; we didn’t necessarily do it but we are certainly contributing. Warm, salty currents in the Atlantic Ocean that circulate heat probably won’t collapse this century, but they could. And the catastrophic methane release some scientists have predicted is unlikely to happen anytime soon, but methane, a greenhouse gas significantly more potent than carbon dioxide, will surely continue to increase in the atmosphere.
Sometime around 1970, a crate, or perhaps it was a cage, shipped from somewhere in South America, landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. Inside were monk parakeets, bright green birds native to the savannahs and scrubland of Paraguay and Argentina. Mobsters may have popped the lid to inspect the goods, expecting fine wine or rare art, a baggage handler could have dropped the cargo, or the container may have been cracked or broken to begin with, no one knows for sure. But somehow the parakeets got out, and in certain communities they continue to cause a fracas.
An English turkey breeder named Jesse Throssel brought birds that were so meaty they had trouble mating naturally to the Portland International Livestock Show around 1930. Throssel’s turkeys, called broad breasted bronzes, were a hit. In the 1950s they were bred with white hollands to create a breed called the broad breasted white, which had a creamier skin tone. Reared for maximum breast meat, broad breasted whites became so popular that breeds such as the Narragansett, Bourbon Red and Jersey Buff were nearly driven to extinction.
Ellicottville got buried on Monday; by nightfall the western New York town was under two and a half feet of snow. Glenwood, just twenty miles away, had two inches. The culprit was a lake effect snow storm. Unlike typical winter storms, which can sprawl across states, lake effect snow storms are bands just ten to twenty miles wide. They form as cold air blows across warm water. Inside a band a foot of snow can fall in a matter of hours, accompanied by thunder and lightning, while just outside skies might be blue.