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On a weekend trip to watch the Pirates   play the Marlins, My Jane and I visited Shark Valley Visitors Center in the Everglades.   I learned so much on our short three-hour visit to this amazing natural wonder. Our guide, Kelly, was very knowledgeable and fun to hang out with. At the beginning of the second half of our tour Kelly asked us what color alligators are? She asked us to raise our hands if we thought alligators where green, or brown or gray or black. Now, here is an interesting thought about how are brains work. During the stop at the observation tower, before Kelly asked her question, every one of us had paused to gaze upon an alligator in a body of water just off the path we were traveling. We all saw that alligator coming and going on that path not 10 minutes before Kelly asked the question! None of us picked the correct color of alligators with our raised hands.

Our brain has a remarkable ability to ignore facts when we have been conditioned to believe something other than the facts. If your ‘tribe’ believes a certain ‘truth’ you will accept that belief as true. My oldest grandson, Joshua,   proved this point when I asked him what color alligators are. Joshua lives in a house that supports the Penn State Nittany Lions (a fictional animal) and the University of Florida Gators. Joshua knows alligators are green because every alligator depicted in University of Florida material is green.   By the way, that is the wrong answer.

If your ‘tribe’ (family, work place, church, gym) believes human beings have not contributed to global climate change you most likely will believe the same. This goofy brain action makes it more difficult to convince folks that we are affecting the climate.

Maybe this story will help you believe human beings are affecting our environment. The Everglades have a snake problem. There are at least 10,000 Burmese Pythons living in the Everglades. Some estimates state the number of Pythons as high as 100,000. No matter, 10,000 is a lot of Pythons. The problem with the Pythons is that they are eating all the small game, deer and some of the birds. The snakes are decimating the wildlife population because they do not have any natural enemies in the slough we know as The Everglades. “Why don’t they have any natural enemies?” You ask. I reply, “Because they are not native to the area.”

Back in the “Seventies”   one of the in-things to do apparently was to own a python. So, folks bought baby Burmese Pythons and took them home as pets. Even in the “seventies” there weren’t enough drugs to make me do that?! Anyway, the baby snakes got large and began to look strangely at the pet dogs and small children in the family.   When this began to happen, owners tried to give the snakes to zoos and other animal preserves but the zoos already had enough pythons. Well, the owners of the snakes didn’t want to just kill their pet so they took the thing to the Everglades and dropped them off. So, humankind changed the environment of the Everglades by introducing a snake with no enemies that has reproduced very actively. Yes, we human beings have affected our environment and climate in many ways. Currently, in Burma, in their natural state, the pythons are an endangered species.

By the way, do you know how you catch a Burmese Python. A python catcher walks through the slough in bare feet until they step on something smooth and a little slimy. Once you find one you reach down and grab it (Hoping it isn’t one of the four poisonous brands of snakes in the Everglades.) If you have a python you get help and take it to the collection point.   If you have a poisonous snake, however, throw it as far as you can and run the opposite direction. If you can convince your brain to like this idea it is a great part-time job.

Alligators are black,    really! 


See you next time.