There’ll be a change in the weather…

Posted March 2nd, 2012 in Blog, Featured 1 Comment »

Fostering Ecological Hope
Reflections on culture and meaning:

Storm barreling down towards us, starting as rain but quickly turning into heavy water-laden snow this evening. For a few hours, it will be wild around southern Wisconsin. Could be some thundersnow, an awesomely beautiful and somewhat rare phenomenon, during which the snow might fall at a rate of 2 inches per hour, along with wind gusts up to 40 mph. If you have never experienced thundersnow, part of the beauty is the color of the lightning glow, often pinks and blues, glistening off the snow in the air.

CO2 per capita per country map. Found: Wikimedia Commons

I’m rooting for it, even though it means changing plans – which is still one of the blessings of weather – it is one of the few forces of nature that can alter our behavior, humble us, get us back in touch with what it means to be a species embedded within nature, rather than Rick Santorum’s faux theology, that nature is at the service of ‘man’ [sic] (to wit, “We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth, to use it wisely and steward it wisely, but for our benefit not for the Earth’s benefit.” Okay, Rick, whatever! The earth can get along fine without us, but just you try getting along without the earth!).

Anyway, a classic March event around here, though it comes after a winter that has seen less than half our usual snowfall and temperature averages that show it to be the fifth warmest winter on record. Lots of concerns about what this will mean for the spring and the prospects for farms and orchards, as well as our backyard gardens (see more below).

While we basked in, or complained about (depending on your point of view), the warm relatively snowless winter, it was snowing in Rome and the storied canals of Venice froze solid. Parts of the Balkans were buried in record-breaking snows.

And then the tornadoes… What incredible awe-striking destruction!!! This was a nearly unprecedented kind of event for the ferocity of the storms and the wide path of destruction across such a large part of the country – except that we started out last year’s tornado season similarly. And it’s not even tornado season yet!

My heart goes out to the people of those communities who have seen their neighborhoods flattened into piles of rubble. Tornadoes remain one of the fiercest forces of nature. And it ought to be concerning all of us that the warming atmosphere appears to be making them bigger and stronger.

One of the twisters was on the ground for 22 miles. The one that flattened Harrisburg IL was reported to be 200 yards wide. Go outside and try to imagine it. Imagine the length of 2 footballs fields, a funnel cloud that wide, packing rotating winds of 170-200 mph!

Tornado damage in Harrisburg IL. Found at: BuzzFeed

These used to be unprecedented once-in-a-lifetime occurrences. Now they are annual events. Plenty of moisture in the atmosphere right now and this early spring-like clash of cold air coming off the mountains in the west with the warmer air off the Gulf is exploding across the southern half of the nation from the Great Plains all the way to the mid-Atlantic.

It’s a powerful planet we are a part of. It has big forces at work. We ought not to have been messing with those forces the way we have. Now changes are underway that cannot be reversed – so we best start piling up big funds at the federal, state, and local levels for disaster relief and rebuilding.

We also best figure out pretty quickly how we are going to bring down the techno-industrial global economy and put something else in its place before things really get out of hand. We are past the point experientially of being able to credibly deny or doubt that climate change is well underway. Part of what makes this so scary is that all this weird weather is part of a process that is only beginning. The earth’s atmosphere is beginning to respond to the steady rise in greenhouse gases over the course of industrialization and we have no idea where this will go, how bad it will get, what the new stability will look like generations from now, and our prospects for survival within it. But life is going to get harder for sure.

Now many people continue to say that I and others should not be scaring people about the future, that it only makes them shut down, stop listening. But here I am not talking about the future, I’m talking about the present reality. If we aren’t shaken by these annual tornado outbreaks, the unprecedented drought in the Southwest, the changes in nature all around us, then we are a species totally out of touch with its own habitats and needs for survival. We need to get in touch, whether by way of fear, anxiety, knowledge, or compassion for the growing numbers of victims of climate change events.

So what about the impacts of this mild weather on our Spring? This NY Times article explains some of the fears. If buds open too soon, before the bees get active, tree and vegetable blossoms may not get pollinated, which would be bad news for farmers and gardeners. Without the usual bitter cold weather, various pests will emerge in huge numbers, from mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas to the kind that like to eat leaves and gardens. If buds open and then a seasonal cold snap hits, a lot of damage could be done to the fruit trees.

Is it climate change at work? Read this article to see that this is likely the case. One sign of the extent and permanence of the change, the US Dept of Agriculture has issued a new map of plant hardiness zones showing that some regions of our country, especially the northeast, have been moved into warmer zones.

Climate change is underway, which will require adaptation strategies that are taken seriously and get the support of various levels of government no matter the resistance from the economic powers-that-be. But if that is all we do, we are basically surrendering ourselves to a future of increasingly destructive weather chaos. Essential to our survival and quality of life is that we move quickly towards mitigation strategies, the most important one being to bring down this techno-industrial consumer economy that is strangling the resources of the planet, heating up the atmosphere in dangerous, possibly lethal ways, and condemning future generations to lives of desperation as adapting to profound changes in the natural cycles of living systems becomes increasingly difficult.

I'm doing it for her

We can do this. We still can do this. Not by thinking we can return to an old norm, but by changing quickly toward a new culture of life and well-being that can assist the earth in restoring balance and a relative stability in which our species, and millions of other species, can thrive. As down as I can get these days by the paralysis in the culture that keeps us from taking this step, I do believe this is a struggle worth engaging, indeed, among the most meaningful of our generation, if not also the most important. We can do this because we must do this. We have the capacity for it, it’s just a matter of digging down to the center, the best part of ourselves, and engaging our best gifts and talents in the effort.

Nothing will ever make us feel better about ourselves or our lives than this will. I can guarantee it.


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One Response

  1. D.Bheemeswar

    Humans are all different kinds they just go around where ever they do have some food and materials and look for the comforts, colonies were built and broken cities were built were broken, cultures were developed and also broken, spiritual leaders do come like storms and give a different direction but still the the humans are not happy. It was agriculture and then industrialization, now space age and them what is unknown. But I am sure we have to look for the natural products for the health and well being as the present materials do not have the capacity to rebuild the resistance and immunity along with some yoga and meditations for the man kind to progress. With so many facilities yet people are not happy means some thing some where went wrong basically the cultures which were built around certain customs and traditions were all misunderstood and misinterpreted because of which the ethics and moral got derailed in thew society. Life has become totally miserable for everybody for all sorts of life due to brainless devastation that humans have started on the nature for want of materialistic benefits. Naturally the ecology and geographical conditions do changed due this rampage of mad brains. Its effect is seen in all the places. The basic questions do arise for what we are all living and why for, is it only for earning more and more and live in comforts by making other humans to go down the poverty line and become poorer and poorer day by day, discriminating the humans with the name of religion or race or region has cost a lot on the human chain and brought miserable and pathetic situations. Are we all ruled by humans are just by satanic brains. whose vision and mission ends with only filling the pockets of their own and few, who all live at the cost of others blood. Few countries have looted other countries and left them in miserable conditions and some other countries were degraded spiritually beyond repair which is causing a lot of unrest among the people of those countries. at least now humans should learn lesson and go for better human value management systems rather economy oriented managements.