In another effort, I suppose, to prove he has a sense of humor POTUS tweeted to the folks who are literally freezing to death in various part of the mid-west and northeast that a) “we need a little more of that global warming” and b) “bundle up!” Having twice been in -32 degree weather, the humor escaped me but oh well, I live in Florida now so maybe I just get grumpy even thinking about being cold. Then too I don’t mean this to be a riff on whether or not Potus’ weather humor is ready for prime time. George Carlin, may he rest in peace, may remain peaceful; there’s no threat to the Hippy Dippy Weatherman. However, there is another point to be made and it follows.
The first is that there is a difference between whether one is talking about the weather or the term global warming. The second is the term global warming itself. Weather is something you see outside your windows or experience outside your door. Weather is a set of climate elements that dictate how one will dress for the day, or should have if they’d only listened to the weather report. Weather is a daily occurrence that often impacts whether one will have a good day or bad, be in a good mood or bad. Now lets look a global warming.
Global warming is a scientific term that more and more scientists are trying to rid themselves and us of. It is an unfortunate term that came to them because the most notable aspect of what was going on in weather patterns was that the earth was warming. Here’s an interesting factoid. Erie, Pa, had more than five feet of snow in two days. Why? Yes it was very cold and they had a snow storm. However, because the lake of the same name was not nearly as frozen as normal the warm air from the water and the cold air from the weather produced “lake effect” snow by the dump truck full. And why was the Great Lake slow in freezing over? Global warming. And so we have learned something. Global warming can produce events that are anything but warm. In fact, they can be pretty darned cold, though I suspect the folks experiencing minus 32 temperatures are using a different choice of words.
So if global warming can produce overly warm and overly cold events and their collateral events–heat makes for dry, dry makes for vegetation death, dead vegetation makes for horrendous forest fires–maybe we need a different term. Well bless those scientists and their pea-pickin’ hearts they’ve got one and have been using it for quite a while. It’s climate change. When the patterns of weather, tracked for a hundred, or maybe in some places hundreds of years by man, and thousands by the earth herself, — when it’s hotter longer, when the sea rises, whether the weather is significantly hotter or colder for intense periods of time but different for longer periods of time, when the flowers scratch their petals and wonder when to bloom, when the squirrels get more squirrelly because they don’t know when to start burying nuts– well that’s climate change.
These may seem frivolous examples, but guess whan they speak to the inhabitants of the planet who make conditions stable and food grow we go from frivolous to catastrophic. Yes it is sad to see a mother Polar Bear stranded with her cubs on an ice flow that should be miles long and is but now yards long it is heart-breaking. But think a minute if you live by the sea. Where is the rest of that ice flow? Why it has melted, along with hundreds, (millions?) of tons of its mates and is preparing to wash away your house, your infrastructure, and at some point your city. It is estimated that by the time your grandchildren are your age, the city of Jakarta, Indonesia will be well on its way to becoming the next Atlantis. Non-Jakartans should take no comfort in that. If you live in Miami Beach, San Diego, Nice, Barcelona, Sicily–you get the point, “man the life boats!”
Finally we come to politics. Why then is this over-used but out-dated term, global warming, so slow to disappear from our discourse on the environment? First of all, people learn slowly and unlearn even more slowly. We were taught a term. We had to digest it. We found it created a sharp, definable, if incomplete picture in our minds and our minds became comfortable with it. Whether we believed what it was supposed to mean about the weather or not, it was ours and we kept. Then came climate change.
Already there’s a problem. Climate is a lot more complicated a term to digest than global. And change? What the heck does that mean? We’re brought up to believe everything changes, that the only constant in life is change, so big deal! We change our clothes, our styles, our cars, our spouses. Change is a fact of life. Now suddenly am I supposed to believe it is a sinister, probably deadly, concept? Warming? We like that one better. It’s meaning is clear as a bell. By the time one is five, maybe younger, that is an understandable word. So, regrettably, the scientists came up with too good a phrase the first time around. Because that phrase short-changes its own meaning and impact, politicians who for most sinister political reasons saw an opportunity made it the banner that they hung from their lances used in the charge to skewer the concept of climate change. And by Jingo, they were on to something.
But friends no matter. Our fate remains before us. The only question is whether or not we manage it or it manages us. So take heed POTUS, unless Baron and his off-spring live in a world that has quickly and successfully adapted to the phrase you refuse to use, you as president will have left them a mess worse than the one you claim you inherited.
What’s that you say about putting men on Mars?
Bill Gralnick writes his heart out for you most Sundays of the year always at “www.atleastfrommyperspective.wordpress.com
For compilations of his unique perspectives see the just published…
“More Mirth, Wind, and Ire” at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/758411 or on Kindle, nook and most other reading devices or the original…
“Mirth, Wind, and Ire” at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/692523 or as above.
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