It's the Environment, Stupid.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Early spring

It annoys me when people complain about the weather. How it’s always yucky when it rains and beautiful when it’s sunny. It’s like arriving to work on a Monday with everyone wishing it were Friday. I never complained about the weather until I came to New York. Even coming from Seattle, where it could be gray day in and day out, drizzling, sprinkling, misting, mixed with the occasional afternoon clearing and sunshine – it never bothered me. It wasn’t until living in NYC that I understood what people were complaining about. It gets cold during the winter and stays cold for so long there becomes a point where you’re just tired of being cold and wish for warmth. Then in the summer, when it’s so blasted hot, there becomes a point where you’re just tired of being hot and long for October when it finally cools off.

I actually like the weather in the northwest – I miss it. I miss the arrival of spring in March, marked by the pink and white blossoming of trees and the sprouting of tulips (or whatever greenery that is that sprouts up at the same time the trees wake up). In NY, one random day in May (or late, late April) the trees will get leaves overnight then – poof – its summer.

It was the early spring factor I was complaining about the other day. Wednesday evening it was cold. I hadn’t brought my scarf with me. I longed for spring (even though it has been an extremely mild winter, despite the groundhog’s warning.) Thursday was a bit windy, but sunny. I thought if I closed my eyes and imagined it were spring, the trees just might grow a green bud or two. Then Friday it was in the 70s (as in Farenheit). It was warm outside. This is March? But I wasn’t complaining – I was warm. It was like LA sans smog and palm trees. People were happy and drinking iced coffee, birds were singing.

The only problem is that it is going to keep getting warmer. Not just this year in NY, but globally in the very near future. (Here it comes…) 2004 was the hottest year to date (debate the hockey stick all you want,) and there’s no telling how the earth will regulate itself – it may be negligible, or it may prove James Lovelock correct – but there will be change and it will have devastating effects because we’re just not ready for it. (Here’s an article from the Poughkeepsie Journal from Saturday that picked up on the early spring – climate change connection.)

Humans will be able to adapt but our dependence on wildlife, water and agriculture, which will also be affected, might make things a little difficult on us. And, if the anticipated increase and severity in storms materializes, governments around the world will be stuck in crisis mode jumping from one ‘natural’ disaster to the next. Then there will really be reason to complain about the weather.

Right – so early spring – um, I guess the moral of the story is be careful what you wish for, and don’t take what you have for granted. And hey, if Dr. James Hansen (the NASA scientist the government tried to hush up) believes that we can stop it before it gets all that bad, then there’s hope.

So enjoy the sunshine, but think twice before complaining about the rain.

(Check out this animated climate change model posted by Treehugger....)

3 Comments:

  • I held off tapping our maple tree this year - an annual ritual that reconnects my children's present with my remembered past - when the sap started to run in late January.
    As much as I, too, yearn for the renewal of Spring, the premature, forced warmth gives me serious pause. Good catch on Dan Shapley's piece in the Journal. He is a very fine environmental journalist, and those are rare in larger media outlets than Poughkeepsie.

    By Anonymous Tim Abbott, at 22:05  

  • I am happy to think twice before I complain about the weather, and I actually do. But I wonder what I can actually do beyond thinking twice?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22:44  

  • Thanks for your comment Tim - I'll have to check out Shapley's other stuff.

    As for anonymous - there are lots of things we can do beyond thinking twice, one of those things is to check out Calvin Jones Climate Change Action. Information, fun and action all in one climate change blog!

    http://climatechangeaction.blogspot.com/

    By Blogger Amy Stodghill, at 00:43  

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