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Winter Breeze Makes Me Feel Not So Fine




I’m used to the cold. I’m used to snow. I was a kid in Wisconsin in the 70s and 80s, and would be woken up by my mom early mornings to scrape ice inches thick off the car windows. I reveled in snow days and more than once thought about wearing snowshoes to get from the front door to the school bus waiting at the end of our drive. Winter doesn’t bother me. Snow and ice do not frighten me. As a teenager, in the snowiest months my sister and I would try to find a semi-truck to drive behind both to save on gas (less driving against the wind) and to clear the road ahead of us as we drove away from our home out in the country for a big night out on the town (in the nearby metropolis which boasted about 35,000 residents – a Mecca to us then). As uncomfortable as some of those winter-life adjustments may have been, they were normal and nearly painfully predictable.

So what has me and others calling this the winter of our discontent should come as no surprise. It’s the fact (no longer question or issue) of climate *change*. I wondered as I watched the State of the Union address last week whether it was the first time a President has referred to climate change in such a nonchalant way, like talking about oil and gas prices, education, unemployment, and other standard areas of common concern. My worry is that now that it’s a given, there seems to be a resigned acceptance. It’s like those fighting the battle to stem the tide of global warming had the wind taken out of their sails defending its existence and what they called it (global warming vs. climate change as if that makes any difference to the birds and seas, or to you and me). So wrapped up in the political fight(s), they got little done in time. And no one, it seems, really knows if it’s too late. And if it’s not, how to reverse the damage.

Here we are with summer in January in the should-be coldest parts of the world and winter sitting in the lap of the normally mildest. In January, it got colder in Chicago than in the South Pole. In Juneau, Alaska, flowers bloomed out of season. Water in the North Pacific is up to seven degrees warmer than most years. Meanwhile, more than 36,000 flights were cancelled due to extreme weather conditions, three times more than in the past two Januarys. An early count shows more than a thousand local records were set for snowfall in January in the United States, while California is shutting down ski resorts for lack of snow. A recent survey found that the water content of California’s snowpack is at just 12% of average, the lowest it’s been since record-keeping of the measure began in 1960. As a result, the state has announced it will not distribute state water supplies to its 25 million customers and nearly a million acres of irrigated farmland unless there is an abundance of wet weather by May 1. These cities and farms that normally rely on state supplied water will have to look elsewhere. They will have to tap underground reservoirs, if they have any, and ask other districts to buy or borrow some. No doubt there will be significant costs involved, something municipalities in cash-strapped California and already facing the economic blows of drought can ill afford. Mandatory rationing of water has already commenced in some areas. If one thing is predictable, it’s that the painful effects of California’s drought, and I’m sure other consequences of aberrant weather, will be far reaching this year.

Welcome, I’m afraid, to the new normal.

3 responses to “Winter Breeze Makes Me Feel Not So Fine

  1. Ralph ⋅

    This morning I fired up the snow blower once again. Waterlogged snow is the worse! Aside from being heavy and willing to turn into ice at a moments notice, it tends to freeze in the snowblower requiring manual intervention to clear. Spraying WD40 into the blower helps some. So, yes,, I added some extra CO2 into the air, but from my view out of my wet hooded coat at the time it wasn’t enough. It was that, or shovelling probably well over 1000 pounds of slush. Burning less than a dollar of gas or risk a heart attack- I’ll take the CO2 behind door number 1. Besides, snowblowers were made for one function, and as the caretaker of one it would be cruel to deprive it of it’s only reason for existing.
    All joking aside, when put to good use, fossil fuels are a very useful thing. For their cost an amazing amount of work can be done. Would anyone push a 2000 pound car 20 miles or more uphill for less than $4? It is wasteful use of fuel that is the real issue. For those that believe anything CO2 is evil, lay down in bed and don’t move around too much. Moving speeds up your breathing and CO2 output. Don’t even think of turning on a PC, using a gas stove, or heating your house. Carbon taxes? A scheme to make a few rich and put some money into an economy that is hopelessly failed with no hope of being fixed. Sorry, moving factories to foreign countries that are producing less than their allowed amount of CO2 is not a fix any more than spending ‘cuts’ have done anything to help our failed economy. It will probably never happen, or at least not in time, but growing trees and plants and stop the clearing of forests would be a big help. Why are taxes seen as an answer rather than an obvious solution, or at least a move in the right direction? Plant things, anything!

  2. Ralph ⋅

    The whole climate thing has quieted down. Like most things, people tend to forget about things pretty fast. Maybe the funding for research has been cut as our ‘leaders’ try to figure out who they can borrow money from next. The new boogeyman on the bock, terrorists, is eating vast sums of money. Making media circus events of what would otherwise be minor events, people have been conditioned to expect more and more spending to ‘protect us’. Climate change will not be fixed with taxes or laws. Individual acts by people will make a difference. I tend to take the approach that lowering my utility bills is the goal. Environmental benefits are a side effect of reducing consumption. I don’t buy new gadgets without them having some real advantage over what I already have. Again, save money, something less to go to landfill, and less pollution manufacturing things we really don’t need. A self centered interest of saving money with global benefits- works for me!

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