Sunday, January 14, 2007

How about this crazy weather, eh?

The last few days here in Northern Virginia have been positively springlike, with trees budding, cherry blossoms coming out, and temperatures up to nearly 70. And it's January, for pete's sake! The midwest is reeling under a massive ice storm, Denver is still digging out from all the snow dropped by huge blizzards, and there's even snow in parts of sunny California that don't usually see it. What's going on?

Lately, how you interpret the crazy, changing weather seems to depend on your political persuasion. If you're a conservative Republican, it represents normal fluctuation in weather patterns over decades and centuries. If you're a liberal Democrat, it represents the beginning of the end of life as we know it. If you're a thoughtful Independent (like yours truly), you figure the answer more than likely lies somewhere in between.

Yes, I accept that weather patterns change naturally over time. But I think you have to have your head stuck pretty deeply in the sand to ignore the cumulative effects of human civilization on those patterns. The destruction of the rain forests, the burning of fossil fuels and consequent release of vast quantities of carbon dioxide into the air, the wholesale pollution of water supplies all clearly have an effect on the weather. My own opinion is that we are probably experiencing a normal cycle of weather change, but its effects are being greatly magnified by human activity. I'm not a climatologist and I can't prove it, but it looks pretty obvious to me.

Of course, climate change has its positive aspects: I never expected to enjoy the sight of lovely ladies wearing summer clothes in January. Nevertheless, I can't help the nagging suspicion that we're going to pay - steeply - for this nice weather later on.

Have a good evening. More thoughts later.


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