Monday, April 9, 2012

Rowdy Winds

This past weekend, the wind blew persistently across the ranch. At times the gusts were strong enough to blow the outdoor barbeque onto the wrap-around deck bench. When I readied for a walk Saturday afternoon, I said to my husband, “Sure wish it weren’t so windy. I’d like to enjoy myself when I go out.” He replied, “Awh, don’t worry about it. It’s not too bad once you’re out in it.”

With his encouragement I headed out determined to enjoy my brief outing. But once out into the open a few gusts pushed hard enough to make it difficult to walk. Determined to stay on my appointed round, I carried on hoping I’d suffer less once the road turned to the southwest and followed along the hillside.

Walking down the road I recalled hearing a number of acquaintances recently say they thought we’d had an awfully windy winter; and didn’t I think we were having more wind than usual. I hadn’t thought much about it until then, but what struck me most was how high the winds have been blowing. When the wind marches in, it’s marching with fierce orders these days.

While the rowdy winds on the ranch disturb us, there were yet rowdier winds in Texas this week. Sitting at my computer and listening to a Dallas classical music station, I heard the emergency warnings for tornadoes throughout the Dallas area. I immediately emailed my son who lives just north of Dallas to make sure he was safe. When I spoke with him he reassured me he was okay having an underground shelter available nearby. Later, listening to weather experts, I heard that so far this year there’s a fifty percent increase in tornado activity and in April of 2011 there were an overwhelming 758 tornadoes reported in the United States.

When a recent dinner guest asked me what I thought about the weather extremes we’ve been experiencing the last few years, I said, “It worries me a lot. This spring my tulips are coming up before the daffodils; a vet just told me she’s having brood mares cycling unusually early; and an old friend, who’s lived in the Valley for seventy-two years, said he’d never seen a winter as mild as the one we just had.” My guest said he, too, was quite concerned and mentioned the incredible pace of ice melting in the Arctic. He added that he’ll be replacing his dead beetle kill pines with drought resistant trees at his home near town.

In a recent article on climate change in the Scientific American, Pennsylvania State University climatologist, Michael Mann, reported that, “Changes have been taking place faster than the models projected. With respect to sea-level rise, with respect to temperature change, with respect of carbon emissions, and in just about every case, the changes have occurred either at the upper end of the projections or even above the range of the projections…Arctic sea ice might be the most profound example, where the observed decline in summer Arctic sea ice is way outside the projected range.”

When asked if he still had hope for our world, he responded by saying, “If we look to history…science and honesty win out—perhaps later than we would have liked. We acted later than we should have with tobacco. We acted later than we should have with ozone depletion and the banning of chlorofluorocarbons. We presumably suffered far greater damage and loss of life because we delayed action. But we did take action.”

If I follow Michael Mann’s lead, I wonder, do I have a more complete answer to my dinner guest’s question about our unsettling weather? I realize the world may be experiencing both natural changes in world-wide weather patterns as well as the influence of human activity on earth. Several years ago, I believed that, while our atmospheric conditions may worsen over the course of a generation, efforts here on earth would help the world right itself. Now, I’m asking myself the question, “Will it really right itself? Can we adapt successfully to these changing climate patterns and weather extremes? Or are catastrophic conditions ahead for coming generations?”

With these questions in mind, I wonder if I, as an individual, can really be of help. “What can I do to tame rowdy winds, misplaced warm temperatures, thirsty meadows, confused tulips and daffodils, horses out of sync, and polar bears looking for safe passage over a dwindling arctic ice cap?” I wonder, if I continue to recycle and work at being aware of my carbon footprint, will it be enough. I know those who survive keep their wits about them, allaying their fears by taking appropriate action. And then, just as Michael Mann suggested, with an honest acceptance of the situation, my action, as part of the whole movement to address climate change, becomes a statement of belief that it will not be too late.

No comments: