The new job is a compilation of news stories about climate change — daunting, yeah?
Fortunately, the search is limited to a three-year period. Unfortunately, it’s mostly very gloomy, and to be spending hours a day word-painting the picture of the planet’s many ills makes for a greyish state of mind.
According to one of the stories I am looking at, there will be no directing our feet to the sunny side of the street; we will be knee deep in cats.
One cat mating three times a year, and her offspring, can produce 420,000 kittens over seven years.
Now that is a startling figure, and a sort of scary one, even if you like cats, and it is an old number about to be replaced by a much larger one. Read on.
Climate change is triggering a boom in kitten births.
Rising temperatures, it is theorized by some experts, causes cats to go into heat more often, leading to the recent dramatic increase in the kitten population.
There is also the belief global warming hastens the onset of puberty in cats, creating a larger pool of fertile cats each breeding season.
Warmer weather increases the chance of kitten survival, as does the increase in available food in the form of rodents, whose chances of survival are also made better by increased warmth.
I am haunted by images of thousands upon thousands of cats, unable to control themselves, mating in a frenzy of temperature-inspired lust.
Sixty-three days later, faced with the results of their helpless passion, they are forced to frantically hunt endless hordes of rodents in order to feed their kittens, most of who will end up in shelters.
Shelters are reporting unprecedented numbers of kittens in their facilities.
This veritable flood of feline fertility is necessitating more deaths, as euthanasia is the solution of most shelters to unadopted animals.
It is a nasty picture, and a lesson to all animals who are thinking of becoming domesticated.
In the hard, wild edges of the world, the larger cats, while dealing with their own changing climate issues, are still in charge of themselves when it comes to matters of the heart.
A female cheetah, for example, does not come into heat without first watching two male cheetahs fight. Her cousin, the lioness, not only demands an extravagant amount of stimulation from her partner before mating takes place, but also requires dozens of copulations a day.
Neither of these cats has large litters, enabling them to continue with careers rather than spend every waking moment feeding and caring for babies. What they may suffer in hardship is more than compensated by the glory of freedom.
But that is the Wild, and here in the Tame we must ponder the dilemma of our animal companions and see what can be done to alleviate this problem, which we have helped create.
Obviously, one of the best solutions is for people who own cats to have them spayed or neutered.
In order to pay for these operations, one could fast for a week, give up red wine for several months, and walk to work, thereby combining good health for oneself with responsible pet ownership. This is what is known as a win-win situation.
Your cat would be saying “Me-ouch!” but you would be feline groovy.
History has shown human beings to be a species that cannot be depended upon to act in its own best interests, unless there is instant gratification of course, so we must look for more realistic answers.
Dr. Christian Koch of Kleinhartmannsdorf, Germany, has come up with a sensible possibility, one that would not depend on the human population being responsible pet owners.
Koch claims to have put 169,050 kilometres on his vehicle using biodiesel he makes himself.
The ingredients are heated to 300 Celsius to filter out hydrocarbon and then turned into diesel by a catalytic heater.
And what is the recipe, you ask? Corn and switchgrass are the most popular, I understand, but Koch has gone outside the box for his ingredients. He is using weeds, old tires and dead cats!
He’s figured that one fully grown cat equals 2.5 litres of fuel, and 20 cats will fill his tank.
With the high cost of fuel, I don’t anticipate much of an outcry when Dr. Koch’s recipe comes to North America.
There’s that promise of a never-ending supply of homeless cats, and given that 48 industrial chemicals have been found in the blood of domestic cats, (all substances found in ordinary household products), pet cats are being poisoned by their owners anyway; may as well use them to drive the kids to soccer practice.
Now if we were talking dogs I would not be feeling so blasé; though I have never had the great good fortune of having a dog of my own, I have been devoted to the notion for many years.
Cats, at least those I have known, leave me cold, cold enough that the thought of being warmed by their little bodies becoming fuel is not too repellent.
I have also come across recipes featuring cats as food; now I would find that hard to swallow.
So this, Uma, is how I am spending my work hours. I am gradually being won to the idea of becoming more environmentally responsible, of doing my share.
One really must, in the face of all the evidence, growing daily, telling us we have to act now or it’s all over in seven years. Or 10 years. In our lifetime, at any rate.
I have started composting, in anticipation of gardening next summer, and as a way of putting less in the landfill. There are now several marked bins in the porch for items suitable for recycling.
The hot water tank, wherever it may be, is going to get wrapped up in insulation when Pete gets home and finds it.
All the light bulbs have been replaced with the twisty kind.
Every time I go online I am inundated with more helpful hints on how to live more sustainably, with a lighter carbon footprint.
Uma, please do not send me more ideas; I am well aware that you, living in southern California, have been doing all this stuff for years and years, biting your tongue bloody at my slowness in arriving on the same page, but I must come to it at my own pace, like the almost extinct sea turtle, slow but certain.
In the Yukon News there is often mention of a man named Lewis Rifkind, described as a “part-time environmentalist.” Lewis will be my role model in this endeavour as he exemplifies my aspirations of the moment. I, too, wish to be part-time for awhile.