Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Martha's Vineyard and the Garden of Eden

Yesterday the Boston Globe had an article about the death of 500 acres of oak forest on Martha's Vineyard and how it is related to climate change. I couldn't stop thinking about the article all day.

To me the key quote from the story was the following:
“It’s what makes the story interesting,’’ Oswald said. “The same two types of trees are dying at the same time’’ today, just as they did 5,000 years ago.
That's right - 5,000 years ago almost the exact same thing happened in almost the exact same place. I immediately thought that this fact makes blaming man-made carbon emissions for what is happening a bit of a stretch. I mean it's not like what happened 5,000 years ago was because of slash and burn farming practices or driving SUV's. It occurred to me that the author of the article was careful to use the term "climate change" instead of "global warming" all through the article.

I also started thinking about what was happening 5,000 years ago and then it clicked. About 5,000 years ago civilization was taking root in the fertile crescent around the meeting of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. This is the area that many have identified as the most likely setting for the Biblical Garden of Eden. Today this area is part of modern day Iraq.

That area today is home to the so-called Marsh Arabs. This is worthy of note because Saddam Hussein tried to punish the Marsh Arabs in 1991 by draining the marshland and destroying both the ecology of the area and the way of life of the Shia Marsh Arabs. We are talking about one of the most ecologically diverse areas on the planet which encompasses roughly 8,000 square miles. That area is just about exactly equal to the size of the entire state of Massachusetts. We are talking about the setting of the Biblical Garden of Eden.

You don't hear much about the restoration of the ecology of this area - do you? You would think that restoring the area that is the metaphorical Garden of Eden in an area roughly equal to the entire state of Massachusetts would rate as high as the problems of 500 acres of forest in Massachusetts. You would be wrong. The reason, I'm convinced, is that George W. Bush was the main cause for this ecological recovery in Iraq and no main stream media wants to give Bush credit for anything. I'm amused by that.

I'm also amused by the fact that 3,000 years ago in this same fertile crescent - man started fermenting beer. Glorious beer! Yet in this modern day there are towns on Martha's Vineyard that are dry. They don't allow alcohol. You can't blame George Bush for that. You can only hope that these towns will eventually become civilized.

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