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Internet can't take place of newspaper

Call me old fashioned, but I like to sit down with a real newspaper in the morning. Those who claim they can get all the news they need online are missing one of life's subtle pleasures, and they may be missing the subtext of stringing separate articles together to form a bigger story.

The July 1 Albany Herald is a good example. A page nine article on polar bears caught my eye just when the caffeine from my first cup of coffee was kicking in. I was intrigued by a federal judge's agreement that "global warming is threatening the survival of the polar bear."

Now, I learned a long time ago that if you want to pick a fight, just start a conversation on politics or religion. I have recently added "global warming" to that list. These are subjects about which people have strong opinions and which, though people are quick to tell you otherwise, there are no easy answers. We seem to want absolutes where there are only shades of gray. Is global warming fact, or is it fiction? If it is fact, is it man-made or is it a natural cycle? Scientists scoff at those who dispute their findings while opponents claim, as noted in the article, "scientists are operating at the frontiers of science."

A few pages later, a story out of Baytown, Texas, tells of the restoration of marshland along the Gulf Coast, bankrolled by a one billion dollar fund from the BP oil spill cleanup. Thousands of pelicans, egrets, spoonbills and seagulls are now living in a wetland that is a "man-made creation dredged from the Houston Ship Channel."

Here in south Georgia, we are in a drought of historic proportions. I see on page six that fire has consumed nearly 300,000 acres of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. And I recall from an article of a few days ago that a court has ruled that the City of Atlanta can pull all the water it wants from a Lake Lanier reservoir that struggles to meet the city's thirsty demands -- demands that look longingly at the Flint River as another source of water.

So what does all this mean? Well, for me it means more questions than answers. That is why I clipped these articles out of the paper and laid them out on the table to ponder, something I could not do if I had been staring at a computer screen.

As director of Chehaw Park, the preservation of animal habitat is both a passion and a vocation. The mission of the park is to inspire people to connect with nature and to encourage conservation action.

So when I read about polar bears losing habitat, shorebirds depending upon manmade habitat, fire consuming swamp habitat and aquatic habitats drying up, my interest is piqued. I want to explore these separate but related issues in more detail, but since my coffee is finished and it is time to go to work, I will save that for another day.

I would miss my newspaper if it were to be replaced by electronic news. For me, a newspaper is to a computer as a road map is to the electronic voice giving directions out of a car's navigation system.

They might get you where you want to go, but you will miss some interesting side-trips along the way.