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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Do Alligators Represent Transformational Change?

John Nielsen-Gammon's blog has an interesting post on funding recently provided to the State of Michigan by the U.S. federal government to pilot new industries, including alligator farming (as reported by Eric Sharp of the Detroit Free Press). Not known for their love of cold winters, the warming climate has apparently made alligator farming viable, particularly if the animals have been bred to manage Michigan's relatively cold winters. Regardless of the links to climate change, I found the article's comments on the potential risks to humans of introducing alligators to be the most amusing aspect of the story:

"We figure in the first 10 years we might see gators eat 15 people, no more
than 50 tops. But we kill nearly that many on snowmobiles every year, and once
Michiganders become accustomed to look for those little bumps sticking up that
are the gator's eyes and nose, it should drop back down to about the same rate
as in Florida."
Despite the body count, this could be a foreshadowing of things to come, as climate-sensitive industries jostle for climate-friendly geographies. For a more academic discussion on this topic, see the recent paper by Park et al. (2012).

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