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Global what? February 19, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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It’s me, Richard Saunders of Poor Richard’s Almanac fame, back today to talk about the weather. February was always the coldest month in this part of Pennsylvania–bitter winds, high snows, iced-over windshields, highs in the teens (if you were lucky). But the past few years, Februaries have been milder. And this year, it hardly seems like February at all. Yesterday’s highs were in the 60s, and I was running errands outside in a tee shirt.

I know a British physicist who maintains that global warming is an illusion, that we’re simply in the warming cycle that also occurred from about 800 to 1400, enabling the flowering of the Middle Ages, followed by the little ice age that caused famine, disease and depopulation and culminated in the French Revolution. Well, fine. But when the weather is palpably warmer from year to year, it doesn’t seem like a natural cycle, which I’d think would be more gradual. In fact, it doesn’t seem natural at all. I’d say we’re holding Mother Nature’s toes to the fire, and I’ll bet she doesn’t like it one bit.

As for people like our friend Ben who hate dealing with snow and ice and feel like cheering for global warming every winter, let me just say that cold is good. It’s good for our plants, ensuring that they stay safely dormant instead of breaking dormancy too early, then being killed or damaged by a late frost, or being heaved out of the ground by repeated thawing and freezing. And it’s good for us, as well as our plants and animals, because cold weather kills insect pests and diseases. Mild winters tend to mean a lot more illness going around. Our ancestors were also aware of this. Back in the day, they had a saying we’d do well to remember, especially in these days of antibiotic-resistant strains: Warm winter, fat graveyard.

One more thing about warmer winters: If the winters are getting warmer, it follows that the summers are getting hotter. If this keeps up, North Dakota may be the Pennsylvania of tomorrow…

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1. Our friend Ben - February 20, 2008

Just last night I received an e-mail update from a science writer friend who’d just returned from a major science conference. She told me that the numerous scientists there, many very eminent, had little in common–their fields ranged all over the map, from astrophysics to coral reefs–but the one thing they ALL agreed on was the reality and imminent danger of global warming, and the hazards it posed to life on the planet. The coral reef scientists believe that global warming will kill all coral reefs in a matter of a decade or two. My friend also pointed out that the European Union had held carbon emissions steady since the problem was first identified, while emissions in the U.S. rose by 14-19% a year. Help!!!


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