We’re struggling with the harshness of this winter. Aren't you? It affects everything we do. Business contacts in Dallas are trapped at home by more than an inch of ice. Friends in Chicago are buried under the worst snowfall in memory. A hotel I work with near New York routinely spends $8,000 to $10,000 to plow away wave after wave of snowfall.
|Not working: Wagon (front) & solar panels (rear)|
And here at Good Hand Farm, we haul water to our horses by hand, dig pathways to the barn, watch helplessly as frozen gutters pull away from buildings, and struggle in vain to keep the solar panels clear.
These conditions make great PR for the oil-funded politicians. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma seized upon the harsh weather to denounce “the fanciful claims surrounding global warming” as a “colossal deception, an artful hoax, and an intellectual fraud.”
What’s going on? I thought global warming meant the globe was warming!
Well, it is. The U.S. government just released global temperature measurements for 2010, and the results are scary. Both NASA and NOAA report that 2010 is tied with 2005 as the hottest year for the earth on record. In fact, 9 of the 10 hottest years have occurred since 2000.
|NOAA's data: 2010 tied for the hottest year on record|
With 40 percent more water vapor in the atmosphere than in 1970, it’s not surprising that our winter snows might be getting heavier, just the way summer floods are getting worse.
But what’s with the cold? Well, to be honest, the research is not conclusive just yet. But it is clear that while we’re getting cold winter weather here in the mid-latitudes, it’s much warmer than usual in the Arctic. Here’s why, according to some researchers at NOAA and other research centers:
There is a pattern of circulation around the Arctic called the “Polar Vortex.” It’s a wall of wind that tends to keep polar air in the Arctic, and warmer air to the south, like a climatic fence. With the warming of the Arctic, the Polar Vortex has weakened, permitting swaths of arctic air to sweep south, intensifying our winters here in the mid-latitudes. Last winter, one index related to the Vortex hit its lowest wintertime value since record-keeping began in 1865, and it was quite low again last month.
These researchers note that the weakened Polar Vortex is permitting arctic air to “jump the fence,” and we’re feeling the results down here. If they are right, we could be in for a climatic double whammy: hotter, longer summers, plus colder, snowier winters.
I, for one, am hoping so. You're wondering why, of course. Right?
Anyone looking honestly at the issues of justice related to climate change can’t miss the cruel realities: The affluent U.S., with 5% of the world’s population, generates more than a quarter of global greenhouse gases. But the billions of poor in the developing world, with limited means of adaptation, are the most certain to suffer the resulting climate effects on food supply, rising seas, increased flooding, and severe droughts. We consume; they suffer.
The Bible’s Psalms are full of prayers that God would visit the consequences of evil on its perpetrators, and not upon the innocent. Here’s what one of them says:
“This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence…. When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” (Ps. 73)
Is it too much – in our day – to pray that God’s creation would visit the effects of environmental degradation upon its perpetrators?
Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.
J. ElwoodFollow @John_Elwood