An Infrequent Appearance
So many seasons had come and gone since I was able to look down from my deck and see the goat herd of Laguna, but in early February, there they were. The ever-friendly herder and his loyal dog came up the slope to speak to me while he was in the process of putting up the temporary fencing that controlled where his goats could roam each day.
He explained that the goats had not been in my area for the last three years because there had not been enough rainfall to produce anything for his herd to devour. Well, last season Southern California finally got an average amount of rain, producing more edibles on Mystic Hills. Ah, the return of the herd, a wonderful sight. Not only are they reducing the risk of fire sweeping up the hillside, but are also rarely seen in our urbanized county.
I took a short trip to Las Vegas to see Elton John and upon my return the herd had finished its work and was nowhere to be seen. The hill seemed sadder for their absence, and sadder still when I realized it might be many seasons before I saw them again. After last season’s rainfall, we in this region are back in dangerous drought-like conditions. As the L.A. Times recently put it, “Southern California is desperate for rain.” Between Feb. 19 of last year and Feb. 19 of this year, Los Angeles has had one day of significant rain. One day!
Steve Johnson, long range forecaster with Atmospherics Group International, has said if this season continues its record dryness, “California is marching into unprecedented territory, which has never been seen before in recorded climate history.”
One wonders if there is a connection between California’s drought and global warming?
I ran across an article in the New York Times that reported, “Global warming caused by human emissions has most likely intensified the drought in California by 15 to 20 percent.” In the same article, Columbia professor A. Park Williams says of California’s drought, “It would be a fairly bad drought no matter what. But it’s been made worse by global warming.”
By bringing up the issue of global warming, I run the risk of a partisan fight. I will take that risk because, finally, the number of Americans who believe that the planet is getting hotter as a result of human activity is growing. According to a recent Gallup poll survey, 70% of Americans believe an increase in the Earth’s temperature over the last century is mainly due to the effects of pollution.
Over 95% of actively publishing climate scientists agree that it is extremely likely climate warming trends over the last century are due to human activities. I could list all the scientific organizations that support this position from the American Association for the Advancement of Science to the Geological Society of America whose research has led them to the same conclusion, but I do have a word limit for my columns.
There is the canard that all these folks are either paid to come up with this conclusion or they somehow are a minority of real scientists. Let me tell you of a scientist who was funded by the partisan Koch Brothers to debunk the theory of global warming. The scientist’s name is Richard Muller, and in his Koch funded study entitled, “The Conversion of a Climate Change Skeptic,” he found that global warming was real and humans were almost entirely the cause.
But there are still plenty of people who cling to the opposite position. One of them lives in the White House. President Trump recently said that the polar ice caps are at “record levels.”
Unfortunately for the president, there are groups like NASA that possess satellites who reported last year that sea ice on both poles had reached the lowest levels since data began to be recorded in 1979. Guess that news didn’t make it to “Fox and Friends.”
We, who live in Mystic Hills, should not expect to see our beloved goat herd for some time if this drought continues. This will be sad for many of us, but not a catastrophe. But it is a sign of the coming times. Think of the disappearance of the herd as a rivet on a plane that pops off. It is just one rivet, but more and more are popping off every year. How many missing rivets will it take to put the plane in real danger? Sadly, we are going to find out.
Aside from the herd and the shepherd, James Utt will miss his dog that does such a masterful job tending the flock.