Thursday, September 19, 2013

Climate Change for Real?

I guess it is fall, the calendar says so. It is kind of hard to tell when the temperatures are this hot. Of course, I know that by writing this column and complaining about the temperature I am causing it to change. By the time you read this it will probably be snowing and we will have freeze warnings. I know we live in Kansas, where if you don’t like the weather all you need to do is wait five minutes. However, snow in May, cool temperatures and lots of rain in August and 100 degrees in September, that is extreme even for Kansas.
All of this is making me a believer in climate change. Last summer we had extreme heat and even more extreme drought, surely we were in the grips of global warming. Soon we would be toasted, roasted and hung up to dry. The polar ice caps were melting and the Okies would be selling ocean front property. We needed to go green or everything would turn brown.
Then in the midst of the global warming apocalypse came last spring in all of her chilly glory. I am not sure that I attended a baseball game or track meet without a heavy winter coat. Spring planting was delayed because of cold soil temperature, moisture and snow in April and May. Maybe that snow drift in Montana was the southern edge of the polar ice cap. The next ice age was upon us.
Even more evidence of the return of the ice age was county fair season this year. I have never seen so many coats and gloves adorning the spectators of a beef show in July. I, myself, started to shiver and turned the heater/defrost on after judging one show this summer. I fully expected to be judging yak shows next year. I envisioned opening a snow cat dealership.
But as quickly as it started the next ice age melted away in late August and early September.  As cool as our county fairs were, I think the first weekend of the Kansas State Fair had to be one of the hottest weekends ever. A tax on iced tea and bottled water would have funded the state of Kansas for a whole year.  Global warming again reared its ugly, fiery head.
So what does it all mean? Are we going to freeze or is it getting hot in here? Where is Al Gore when we need him? My prediction is that by the time you read this column there is a fifty percent chance that it will be hot and a fifty percent chance it will be cool. We may or may not have had precipitation and that precipitation will take the form of rain, snow, sleet, hail or all of the above.
I know the Old Farmer’s Almanac has predicted a cold wet winter. They may very well be right. I would guess they are right just as many times as any other “expert”. Maybe I ought to go into meteorology. After all, it is the only profession you can be wrong in most of the time and still have everyone hang on your every word. Shoot, you can even change your mind midstream and make your predictions right.
OK, my weather predicting friends don’t get too mad at me. I know it is an inexact science, one that works with the unpredictability of wind currents, cold fronts, upper level moisture among many factors. I understand inexact, unpredictable studies; I have a degree in agricultural economics. I can’t predict the direction of the markets with any accuracy, but I can draw a graph to prove I am right.
It all boils down to something Dad tells me nearly every day. The weather is something we have no control over. We should worry about things we can control and not worry about what we can’t, like the weather. Don’t misunderstand me; I think it is a good thing to protect our environment. We should make sure we leave it cleaner and better for our kids, conserve our natural resources; but I just can’t buy into the idea that we cause changes in the weather.
I guess, in the end, variety is the spice of life. If we didn’t have really hot days, the first cool day of fall wouldn’t be so refreshing. You also have to admit that the first really warm day of the spring feels pretty darn good too. So I guess in the spirit of being prepared I will put on my stocking cap and coveralls over my short sleeve shirt and shorts, who knows I may need them all today.

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