Dear Hearts -
Just came home from a friend's place, driving through sun, hail, and snow. All at the same time. The weather has gone from changing every ten minutes and every hundred yards to doing everything all at once. So I thought I'd get the latest Smart Aleck onto the blog now, while the weather topic is hot, cold, and everything in between. So here it is:
Global Warming, Local Confusion
As I write I’m listening to the weather forecast on the radio. The forecast is for snow. We’re coming into late April, and the weather forecast is for snow, and rain, and hail. With occasional sun breaks.
Now I’m as ready as the next bleeding heart liberal to believe that global warming is a fact, but the weather this spring has me confused.
Last week a friend driving home from Spokane was held up for an hour and a half on Interstate 90 while the state crews did avalanche control at Snoqualmie Pass.
Two days later we had an eighty-five degree day that gave all the trees and shrubs a burst of growth and bloom. Summer! We got out our shorts and tees.
Two days after that I drove into Seattle and landed in a hail storm-cum-cloudburst. Within a few minutes the gutters were running with several inches of water, and the water had large bubbles caused by rain and hail pelting it, and on the higher ground hail collected like snow. This kept up for ten minutes or so, at the end of which lightning flashed and thunder boomed, and then the rain slowed to a spit, and the sun broke through.
We’ve always said, “If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes,” but it has never been as true as it is this spring.
Over forty years ago when I was a freshman in college, I had to take Biology 101, a general education course. The teacher felt that the only real major anyone should have in college was chemistry, and that it was his job to wash out as many non-chemistry majors as he could. You could tell he had no patience with our unformed, unscientific minds. He taught us with the gloom and despair of a prophet destined to reveal truths that no one wanted to hear. He told us about the greenhouse effect and global warming. He told us that we ignored what we were doing to the environment at our peril. It sounded horrible and fantastical, like science fiction, back then.
He was right, and nobody listened. No wonder he was always in a bad mood.
When I moved to Los Angeles in 1969 and experienced smog, I began to see his point. I could look up in the sky and see what looked like solid earth floating above the LA basin. That was air pollution. If I drove with the windows down on a hot day, my eyes stung and burned. I found out that sensation was caused by sulfur compounds in the air combining with the tears in my eyes to make sulfuric acid. In my eyes.
There were daily air quality alerts. Sometimes children were not allowed to play outside because the air would poison them.
That was my first observation of humans pooping in the nest. LA has cleaned up the air quite a bit since, but I continue to be amazed at how short-sighted we are regarding the effects of our behavior and actions on the world we live in, and how little we apparently care about what we leave for our children and grand children, especially if there’s a buck to be made in the short run. Shortsighted. Pooping in our own nest.
There is so much we don’t and can’t know. Is this snowy, icy spring a result of global warming’s upsetting the earth’s equilibrium? Is it the fault of La Niña? Is it an isolated quirk of nature? Is it the last days, as many fundamentalist Christians would like to believe, despite the gospel’s assurance that no one will see it coming (Luke 12:40)? Have Pinky and the Brain finally taken over the world?
Heck, I don’t know. Hand me my jacket, will you? I have to go break the ice in the dog’s water dish. If this is global warming, I’m confused.