According to National Geographic, the climate crisis is indeed everywhere including the ol’ fishing hole. If you are familiar with Boxcar Willie’s song “Winds of Yesterday”, or indeed with Boxcar Willie period, we do not expect you to fess up to having seen the world from a boxcar door. But NG gets into the spirit of his “children at the old swimmin' hole, and fishin' on the river with an old cane pole” with the news that casting a RAT or similar (a RAT being a Canadian “Roy Angus Thompson” fly famous among people among whom such things are famous) “has never been simply a pastime. Fishing is summer camp. It’s Saturday with your buddy or your daughter. For millions of people, fishing is a way to grasp the wriggling natural world in your hand. In many families, fishing is art passed down as heirloom, a tradition fashioned of wisdom and bound with 10-pound test line and a Palomar knot.” And now mean old climate change is crossbreeding the fish and it’s all over.
NG profiles a Montana fishing camp and “a fly-fishing guide and climate activist” and wouldn’t you enjoy finding out that’s who you’ve just booked 8 hours in a boat with. She says clients are catching more hybrid fish, something we’re struggling to place in the Book of Revelation. See “one of the gravest threats posed by climate change to fish is genetic: Introduced fish are mating with native cutthroat trout, a mixing that has been abetted by changing water flows. If left unchecked, this could wipe out the cutthroat population, devastating a cherished American fishery.”
You’re blaming introduced fish on climate change? Not, let’s see, the people who stupidly introduced them? And your trout being a mongrel is the end? Apparently so, given that when it comes to climate change, it’s all bad news: “Rainbow trout are roughly equivalent to factory-farmed chicken. When they breed with native cutthroat, they adulterate thousands of years of wild genetic wisdom. The mongrel fish aren’t as suited to their environment or as nimble at adapting to change.” Though the Darwinians in the audience will regard that one as self-correcting, since their ungainliness in adapting to change should wipe them out leaving just the genetically wildly wise cutthroats.
Except they’ll all die unless they don’t. Evidently “Worldwide… freshwater fish went extinct twice as fast as other vertebrates during the 20th century. In North America almost 40 percent of inland fish are imperiled, a 2008 survey found – at 700 species, nearly double the number from just 20 years earlier.” That wouldn’t have anything to do with our changes to the landscape would it? As a matter of fact it does.
“We have bulldozed rivers and made them run as straight as aqueducts. We have logged mountainsides, paved riversides, and built homes there, sending silt and pollution into streams. We have introduced fish from elsewhere that outcompete the locals. And now comes climate change to land yet another blow, like a roundhouse to a battered boxer.”
Yeah. Or a character who was never even in the book appearing in the last chapter to get blamed for stuff that had already happened. Of course the story also says the creek is rising (in temperature), snow melt is falling and as for walleyes in Wisconsin, “by 2090 they’ll be unable to sustain themselves in a third to three-quarters of the lakes in the state that now hold them.” No ifs, ands, buts, or citations… including to scientists speculating based on RCP8.5.
What a fish story.