In our time of sublime rebirth: the best and worst things about spring
April 4, 2017
Filed under OPINIONS
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The March 20 passing of the 2017 spring equinox brought the casual fanfare and celebration that we have learned to culturally associate with the year’s first warm season. Spring, the rebirth, the renaissance season, the physical manifestation of humankind’s warming hearts and enduring spirit, is here.
And why shouldn’t we celebrate the oncoming of spring, the favorite season of baseball enthusiasts, pagans and umbrella manufacturers? The world has, once again, survived the maudlin trials of winter, in which we are forced to huddle inside our domiciles and resort to our wits, consciousness or honesty to connect with our fellow humans.
Spring marks the end of winter’s death rattle. Spring is the season to enjoy new, warmer weather. Spring brings the return of stupefying flora and fauna.
Spring also means that scores of polar bears are dying because the polar ice caps are melting at an exorbitant rate.
I always get excited at the outbreak of spring’s first glorious weekend, two days of beautiful, toasty weather that graces my skin. At the suggestion of the budding tree line, I pack up my tent, travel sack and hiking gear and head directly into the woods. The forest returns to life in those early days of spring, and I observe with wonder as the woodlands stretch and rustle, as if nature was slowly arising from a regenerative slumber. I can’t help but walk for miles and miles in appreciation of this great and awesome splendor.
Polar bears, however, can barely find room to walk at all anymore because the polar ice caps are melting out from under them. A recent study by Ohio State University determined that Greenland’s coastal ice sheet will be permanently lost by the year 2100, less than a century away, which will cause the global sea level to rise by more than 1.5 inches.
The extreme loss of stable and consistent ice sheets means that polar bears are losing precious hunting and mating grounds. One has to wonder if polar bears have a more macabre consideration for spring.
But not me, I love spring. One aspect of this vibrant season that always brings me to feverish bouts of wonder is when I hear the birdsong of the flocks returning north from their Caribbean respite. My ears perk up in bated anticipation at the first sound of songbirds playing their flutes, singing to the aromatic, supple spirit of the romantic season.
This beautiful evidence of the return of wildlife inspires me, forcing me out of my shell, allowing me to re-invent myself in this new, warmer period of renaissance as well.
Polar bears are quickly dying now, which means they might not be returning for too many springs. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service predicts that by 2050, one-third of the remaining 26,000 polar bears on earth will die off, drastically cutting into their numbers.
The prominent factor for this is the increasing pace and scope of the melting of the polar ice caps, the natural habitat and traditional home of the polar bear. Did you know polar bears are going extinct?
Arctic sea ice levels reached a record wintertime low in the 2016-17 winter season, according to a survey of data and satellite images by NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The levels of sea ice, which polar bears use in their travels across the vast expanse of the Arctic, were the lowest since the records began in 1979.
We’re currently out of wintertime, though, having finally realized our escape from the grey, dour oppression of winter’s bitter wrath. For the first time since December, I discover myself overwhelmed with stamina and aspiration, gently pushed forward by the green expanses and goldenrod sun rays of spring’s magnificent glory.
Humankind, as a whole, quickly pulls itself out of cabins and dens, woken from its annual hibernation. Our wonderful city, Pittsburgh, springs to life. Spring is evident in the gushing, spirited bodies of the Three Rivers. Spring is evident in the clanging bells of bicyclists. Spring is evident in the laughter of children extolling their joy across many of our city’s expansive parks.
I love spring, despite the fact that I am burdened by the exhausting knowledge that polar bears are dying as a result of extreme climate changes enacted because of the indifference and hubris of mankind. I love spring because it overwhelms me with its beauty, feeding me its aspiration, hope and newborn strength.
Oh, did you know polar bears are going extinct?