Kevin painted the 2 ft x 4 ft oil landscape above in late summer, 1969, sitting in a field near where he lives now. In 2012, 43 years later, the same landscape will look like this by May.
We Are Enjoying a Very Early Spring
I just returned home from a business trip to Minnesota, March 12 – 15, 2012, where the high temperature on March 14 was near 80 degrees F. My colleagues and I ate dinner outdoors on an unheated patio near Minneapolis, in our shirt sleeves. We stayed outside long after dark, and were quite comfortable. Before that trip Robert and I slept in our new woodland cottage, under construction in snow country, with the windows open all night on March 10 and again last night, March 19. All of our apple, peach, pear and nectarine trees burst into bloom on St. Patrick’s Day, last Saturday. The daffodils and star and classic magnolia trees were in full bloom simultaneously by March 15, whereas they usually bloom weeks apart and a month later. We saw a forsythia bush in full bloom in the last week of February, and we were both amazed to see hundreds of daffodils in glorious flower on our way to our art gallery March 2. Today, March 20, thousands of tree frogs have begun their gloriously beautiful trilling around our pond. We have never before heard them until the end of April, and they are often silent until May. We are enjoying this early spring immensely, of course… It is exquisitely beautiful, and it is an apparent luxury to welcome spring at least a month early — probably a bit earlier, actually.
However, Our Enjoyment Is Mitigated by Some Real Concerns:
- What does this radical departure from the normal rhythms, timing and balance of nature mean? Will we have 115 or 120 degree days in August? Will the US electrical grid be able to withstand that stress? Will there be gigantic killer tornadoes and hurricanes this summer? The insect population is booming now. What will it be like in a few months? What will that mean for the crops and the food supply?
- How will such a warm winter affect the melting and seismic instability of Greenland and the polar ice caps? Could they break up and cause sea levels to rise suddenly and dramatically? Will the frozen methane beds in the seas be released?
- What does it mean that we had no winter in 2012 and our pond never froze over? Our koi did not bury themselves in the mud and sleep with their hearts beating only once a minute. They were swimming around and eating throughout the winter that did not come. Some plants that should have frozen survived the winter. What are the implications? At what point will the plankton base of the food chain be affected?
- Will there be consequences immediately or will they come later? Have we already passed the tipping point? Is it too late to reverse Global Climate Change? If so, is there any hope that geo-engineering can save life on earth?
- What will it take for people to start consciously thinking and talking about Global Climate Change and taking action? Will we have to suffer a string of horrific disasters in which millions might die before we all start to acknowledge the gravity of Global Climate Change and its implications for all life on Earth?
Some People Seem Worried about Global Climate Change
Occasionally now one sees some concerned looks on people’s faces – even network TV weather forecasters – when there is talk of our very early spring after such a mild winter. But almost nobody talks about what it means. That has become unfashionable and passé along with Al Gore and his award-winning film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” (Now is a good time to review that.) Most people where I live are simply delighted with all of this. Fully two-thirds of the population in my state do not believe in Global Climate Change caused by human activity. They apparently think that the world’s scientists are engaged in a gigantic conspiracy to deceive them… to what purpose I cannot begin to imagine. My neighbors are very happy that we had no winter and that spring is 4 to 6 weeks early. They hope it will be this way forever. I wish it could be so. I fervently wish we could stop the climate change merry-go-round at this point, but, of course there will be no arresting the momentum now.
Is There Still Hope? What Can We Do?
Many climatologists’ interpretations of the data suggest that there may still be some time left before the buildup of greenhouse gasses reaches the point of no return and exponential warming, but the entire population of the planet would have to act decisively to take advantage of the remaining small window of opportunity. Other scientists are working on risky experimental geo-engineering strategies to cool the planet. Current unusual weather suggests that major climate-related events may be upon us sooner than many had predicted. I feel fortunate to have lived such a long and full life already. We must all feel very sorry for the young people, the children and all the innocent plants and animals. Previous generations and older people like me have failed them. In our greed and zeal for “progress” and profit we carelessly and tragically allowed ourselves to despoil our home planet, never questioning where we would live when it could no longer support us. I apologize most humbly to the younger generations on behalf of us older folks and our ancestors for squandering their birthright, and I sincerely pray that they will somehow find within themselves the innovative genius to correct our errors and save the Earth for future generations of humans to live more wisely than we have. Meanwhile, let us all savor and enjoy every precious moment of this very early and beautiful spring on our amazing planet.