By Tom Walker
he Meditation Garden at my church in Tucson, St. Mark’s United Methodist, has been barricaded off. A sign at the entrance explains why: “CLOSED,” it says. “NESTING HAWKS ON PREMISES.”
This is an inconvenience to many people, I’m sure – including my wife, Linda, who often goes there to clear her thoughts and to commune with her mother, whose plaque is on the “In Loving Memory” wall and whose ashes are scattered there.
(And probably, I suspect, to get away from me for a little time of peace and quiet. But maybe I’m just being paranoid.)
There’s no paranoia about the danger posed by hawks, however. With their sharp beaks and talons, they can do serious harm to anyone who gets too near their hatchlings. In addition, all hawks and owls are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. So as long as the big birds were there, St. Mark’s couldn’t do anything except try to keep humans from encroaching into their territory.
That’s has become a major ecological problem. Too many people everywhere, crowding out wildlife habitats. Too many cars, too many smokestacks, polluting the air. Too many pesticides poisoning the planet. Too much everything.
All this is no problem, of course, to Donald Trump, who maintains that climate change is just a hoax, despite all the melting ice caps, rising seas, powerful tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, and all the other sharp nudges our planet is giving us.
So last week, Trump announced that the United States would quit the Paris climate accord and the more than 190 nations who signed it, and join the vaunted ranks of Syria and Nicaragua as non-signers. (Nicaragua didn’t sign on because it felt the treaty didn’t go far enough.)
Way to go, Mr. President.
n line with that, I have a confession to make. Last week, I wrote a piece for witsendmagazine about a problem I had with a colony of honeybees that decided to take up residence inside the roof of our home. The article, called “A time when no drone Is safe,” attracted a lot of readers, and some very respectful and sensible comments about my use of an exterminating company to get rid of the bees.
“While I understand your need to do something about your invaders, I wish more time could of been given to your bees,” one anonymous writer said. “They may have left behind a bit of a mess but each single bee is a world treasure and a wonder to behold.”
Indeed, bees are world treasures, and one of the most important pollinators for farming and wild plants. And they face many of the same problems that threaten our planet – loss of habitat, pesticides, changes in climate that put them out of sync with the flowers they, as well as the flowers, need to survive.
Colony collapse disorder, in which the female worker bees abandon the hive and their queen, is yet another threat, which scientists still can’t explain.
Maybe the worker bees just heard about Trump’s climate stance, and decided to give up.
I do know one thing: If we ever have another invasion of bees at our house, my first call isn’t going to be to a pest exterminator. It’ll be to some resource like the University of Arizona’s Carl Hayden Bee Laboratory. Maybe they can help me find a beekeeper to remove the hive, maybe not.
But at least I won’t feel like my closest friends are Donald Trump and Syria.