Camille Parmesan is a conservation biologist, an expert on butterflies – and she has the gentle, unhurried disposition that comes from living in a tent for weeks at a time, studying the breeding cycles of insects and animals in their native habitats. Yet there is a hardness in her voice, a sense of urgency, whenever she talks about global warming and its effect on the planet. ‘We’re definitely seeing species going extinct because of climate change,’ says Parmesan, sitting in her second-floor biology office at the University of Texas, which overlooks the turtle ponds north of the UT Tower. ‘We’re going to lose the penguins. We’re going to lose the polar bears, no question. . . . I’m seeing high mountain butterflies literally being pushed off the mountains. This is happening. It is not theory. It is not people saying, ‘Oh, we think it might happen.’ It is happening, and it is incredibly depressing.’ Parmesan has been talking this way for almost a decade now – on ABC’s ‘Nightline,’ in magazines such as Nature and National Geographic, in major scientific papers and in public lectures, long before the recent surge of global warming stories in American media. Her […]

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