Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Does the Emperor Have No Clothes?

About a year ago the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology announced the rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Not only was it not extinct, they had conclusive proof of its survival in Arkansas. A year later that proof remains elusive, and the original claims look more and more dubious.

Science is a messy business, don't let the white lab coats fool ya. Reminds me of that old adage about politics and making's best not to watch. Then again, scientific controversy is most entertaining when it turns ugly. Professional ornithologists are divided into opposing camps on this issue. On one side you have the true believers, supported by the environmental establishment (Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, the Nature Conservancy, etc.). On the other side you have the skeptics and naysayers. Courtesy, decorum, and objectivity are getting trampled amid the accusations and personal attacks. Check out all the fun at IVORY-BILL SKEPTIC.

T-storms were predicted for Sunday. We didn't get any rain during the day, so that evening Michelle watered plants in our yard. Then it rained all night and most of Monday. Could hardly sleep with all the thunder and lightning - the commotion made poor Pipa a nervous wreck. Our property has good drainage and is covered by flood insurance, so I wasn't really worried. Despite hours of heavy precipitation I didn't see any serious flooding in or around Lumberton.

On Tuesday I drove to Houston to visit Troy. I was surprised to see the extent of the flooding along I-10 between Beaumont and Winnie. Water had risen to the edge of the highway, submerging rest areas and feeder roads. Drainage canals were overflowing their banks, fields had become ponds, and some residential property had been inundated. On a positive note, the deluge has produced a substantial increase in duck habitat.


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