One of my close friends is a researcher in the field of plant biology and biofuels. She has been attending conferences this year on the subject of global climate change. The content of this kind of seminar that is probably not ever shown on the news because it doesn’t encourage the kind of fascination and returning viewers of people being murdered on the border of Mexico and the US or an internet romance gone bad when the step mother kills the step child. This is something that effects not just one family, it affects us all, it is not oh look what happened to them, it is look what is happening to us. I know, those naysayers who think this is something made up by the liberal media or by scientists who have nothing better to do than scare the crap out of us. But like the railroad bridge ahead that is too low, the signs are pointing out what is ahead, the flashing lights are blinding our eyes, and the rumble strips are slowing down the vehicle of human destruction but the tractor trailer motors on full speed ahead.
My sister sometimes says that this has happened in the past, that the CO2 levels and temperatures have fluctuated over time and that this is just one such fluctuation. The researchers are saying that the ice cores are showing twice the levels of CO2 in the ice than in any previous year in history. Previously the highest was 150 parts per million, now it is 300 parts per million. As for temperature fluctuations, I forget what my friend said was the proof but that scientists are surmising that the overall average temperatures of the planet have not been this high since its earliest times, while it was still forming.
I know that this woman I work with thought I was crazy when I said that the cities are warmer than the countryside and that I thought that it would make sense that the warmer areas could affect the cooler areas. A few weeks later I heard someone speaking about the heat island effect, that the rising temperatures of asphalt and concrete and city areas with increased traffic and human bodies actually effects the temperatures of surrounding areas.
(Oh and please forgive my misuses of affect and effect despite a high IQ and mad skills in English I have NEVER been able to sort out the usage of these words. And I use whom all the time at the right place too, so it is not a global problem in my brain.)
Also I know people like to think of the Earth as a giant system in which people who are so small cannot have a negative impact on. The say oh the emissions from the cars go into the atmosphere and they dissipate. The question is to where exactly? They are added to the overall gases of the air we breathe but they do not disappear. The ice pack is proof that emissions are not disappearing but instead as the oxygen is used for combustion the empty space where the oxygen was is replaced with CO2. It does NOT just fly away never to be seen or heard from again.
She told me also that the average snow fall for this area has gone down 1 inch a year for the last 20 years. I laughed as she said it because we were driving through the Fulton Phoenix snowbelt area and headed to Oswego on the shores of Lake Ontario. The wind whipped over the lake, and it was powerful and freezing. Why we have a nuclear plant there and not windmills is beyond my comprehension, but that is a story for another day. I gestured what about this I said, playing the devil’s advocate. You know they get more snow now than ever before. Ah yes said my friend knowing full well what I know. The lake no longer freezes so the wind whipping over it is picking up moisture and dropping it as snow, but as the temperatures continue to rise the snow will begin to fall as rain. In fact she said they are saying that our weather will be more like North Carolina’s by the year 2070. I am thinking to myself: how exactly is that bad? But as I am thinking it she is telling me that part of the reason this subject is being discussed in the area of plant biology research is because our area will begin to lose all of it’s maple trees, the apples that grow so readily will probably die unless we develop new varieties, and the grapes that grow in the regions will fare well because we will be able to grow more of the European varieties, I guess our Rieslings will go away to be replaced by Chardonnays. She said we will be buying Canadian maple syrup and eating the Empire apple from a region north of the border of New York. Perhaps in Quebec. (empire is a French word after all).
As we sat at dinner with a group of women who work in a veterinarians office we were discussing global climate change. They spoke of the extension of the heartworm season. It already is longer I say, I have to protect my dog from lyme disease carrying ticks all year now, not just in the summer. That’s true said one of the women. And I said, my vet has already started to recommend giving heartworm all year because of the freezes and thaws that are happening in every month, not just in January as they once did, which we actually called the January thaw. It doesn’t exist anymore. Of course up here in the snow belt they are not yet dealing with that, too much snow the freeze lasts and even when it does thaw the six feet of snow on the ground make hiking about in the woods a little difficult and there is no open water. I do know my plants geared towards zone 5 which might or might not survive are now living year after year. I don’t have to dig up my gladiolas every winter. And here in town, the snow melts to non existent off and on all winter, when once it snowed and never stopped til mid January and then returned until March.
I don’t have solutions, I am an art teacher not a scientist, and sure as heck too honest and too mouthy to be a politician. Can we at least attempt to mitigate the damage? I am not sure. Is change of this nature bad? Again I am not sure. It is what it is right? We will adjust, won’t we? Or will these changes cause the kind of changes we don’t want, like war, refugees, unwanted infestations of fungus, flooding, tornados, hurricanes, drought? Yeas we can pretty much count on all of this. We head onward, hurtling towards our future full blast. I feel sorry for our children and grandchildren.