WEATHER AND WINTER – Marilyn Armstrong

Our weather is weird. In the past decade, we’ve had winters where we are buried in 12 feet (about three meters) of snow next to winters where we don’t get any snow — or so little, we never need to shovel. Or this winter where mostly, it has been so warm with a day or two of cold, then more warm weather. We’ve had the rainiest spring, fall, and winter ever recorded or remembered. It’s pouring right now.

Cold Cardinal Monday

It’s late January — and our dogs are picking up ticks. The ground has not frozen.

Two days ago it was -4 Fahrenheit (-20 Celsius) and today, it’s 50 Fahrenheit (10 Celsius) and it’s pouring rain. Three days ago, we got snow and then freezing rain, winding up with an inch of solid ice on everything. It was like cement. Immovable.

Today is Thursday. It’s warm, raining hard, and blowing a gale.  Everything is washing away. Not a bird in sight because the wind is too strong and they dare not fly. The wind is so powerful our 150-foot (46-meter) oak trees are swaying in the wind like grass. Kind of scary because should one of them fall we are underneath the trees. Big trees. Very big.

An early January morning

Germany used to be a cold country. So was Switzerland. Now they get spring and summer before us. Although New England has always had erratic weather patterns, we had seasonal winds and water temperature that was typical year-to-year. We knew where the weather came from and what it meant. Now, we know nothing. The northern storms are not coming down. Our storms are coming up from the south or the west. No more “Montreal Express” to bring down the arctic weather.

How come ticks are alive in January? We’re going to have massive invasions of insects because of how warm it has been through much of what ought to be winter. Parts of our house are damp and beginning to rot from the rain.

The sun from the east

We get cold days, but just a day or two at a time. Then, it warms up overnight and it’s sort of spring again. I don’t mind not having icy roads, but I mind not having seasons! I never thought I’d hear myself say it, but I actually miss the snow.

We’ve always been weak on Spring. We used to laugh that we got exactly enough time to race down to the local department store — when we had department stores — and buy a bathing suit between the last snow and the first daffodils.

This year, we also missed Autumn, the one really good season we get around here.

Are we getting climate change? It would appear we are in the middle of it. The winds are not blowing from the same directions they used to. The ocean is too warm. Birds are not migrating. Bears aren’t hibernating.

What is our world doing about it? Not much.

And eastern morning …

As for the depression that comes with winter darkness, that’s the only thing that hasn’t changed. I write my way through it. I take pictures of birds. It helps.

Writing helps most. It gets dreary in the winter. Dark until well into the morning and dark again long before dinner. We may change the weather, but so far, we have not managed to change the rotation of the earth or how it circles the sun — or tilts towards or away from the burning orb in the middle.

Last March!

Even among the many who believe in climate change, no one has any idea what to do about it. It’s such a big thing and we are little tiny people living in a damaged world.

THERE ISN’T MUCH SNOWFALL #writephoto – Marilyn Armstrong

Thursday photo prompt: Snowfall #writephoto

It had been warm for most of December and the bulk of January. Warm enough to find myself picking ticks off my dogs. In January when I normally don’t have to worry about ticks and fleas and other noxious bugs in the weeds.

I sprayed them all down with tick poison and ordered collars for all of them. Apparently part of our “new climate” is having to protect the pets from ticks all year round.

There are not supposed to be any bugs — any kind of bugs — in the grass in January. By now, we should have a hard freeze that will last at least a month or longer. Instead, we’ve had a few cold days, then overnight, a warm wind will blow from the south and suddenly, it’s sweater weather.

From the south?

What happened to the cold north wind, referred to by the weathercasters as “the Montreal Express” because it brought bitter winds and snow from our northern neighbor? Canada has been having weather as peculiar as ours. If anyone wants to know about climate change, he or she has but to look out the window.

We are in it.

It’s happening now.

A fellow blogger in Germany has not needed a winter coat until the last couple of days and spring shows up in Switzerland in February.

I don’t know what is going on around here. The birds have stopped migrating. The bears are not hibernating. The ocean is warm inviting sharks and whales to come much closer to shore than they normally do.

Waiting on the Toad for a chance at the feeder

We got two days of bitterly cold weather, snow, sleet, and freezing rain on Sunday and Monday. One cold (but not as cold) day on Tuesday and today, it’s 50 degrees (10 Celsius) and it rained away the ice and snow. But not to worry. The temperature is supposed to drop low tonight a freeze and liquid left on the ground.

Our house is damp and parts of it are rotting from too much rain. We’ve had more rain this spring and winter than ever recorded and it’s not over yet.

Is it climate change? Can you think of anything else it could be?

FEEDING THE BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

We aren’t supposed to feed the birds. Not the swans or the pretty feathered ones. They are supposed to survive naturally. So I never put a feeder up. And I felt guilty every winter when I saw the poor frozen birds huddled in the bushes in the backyard.

This year, I said “Screw natural. We’ve destroyed their environment. We’ve killed the old forests and burned much of the rest. We’ve poisoned them with weed killer and let our pet cats eat millions of them every year … but we can’t feed them? Nuts to that.”

I decided it was the least I could do.

The latest climate report came out today. Because it’s Black Friday (which Garry called “Racist Friday”) and we are all supposed to be shopping (and no one I know actually was shopping at least partly because there aren’t a lot of places to shop), so maybe we’d miss that the entire report is nothing but bad news.

I wasn’t surprised. It has been pretty obvious that our environment is changing fast. Fires and floods. Spring and fall have gone missing. The bitter cold came too soon with snow in early November. Ocean water is more than 9-inches higher than it was 50 years ago.

There’s less snow in the mountains, so the drought in the west is probably permanent. It gets hotter and stays hotter longer each year and sooner rather than later, the crops will start to suffer. I think no matter how hard they try to manipulate the DNA for seeds, when it gets hot and stays hot, and doesn’t rain … the crops will fail.

People will die from the heat, die from lack of water. Eventually, people will also die from hunger. Rich people will survive longer, but sooner or later, the climate will get us all. Unless we go back to doing sensible things to deal with it. We can do it, but it’s not something any of us can do individually.

This needs to be a regional and national effort. This is why we have governments. They are supposed to care for us. It’s why we pay them money. I don’t think the idea was that we should pay them money so they can buy bigger private planes.

We need to get the big Orange Fool out of the White House and start taking care of our planet. While we can.

Meanwhile, I’m going to feed the birds!

AS THE WORLD TURNS, SO THE CLIMATE CHANGES – Marilyn Armstrong

End of October

I was just reading a post on “NewEnglandGardenAndThread” about how in several years, New England’s climate will change from 5 to a 7 or 8.

Here’s a quote and a map:


(The speaker said that) … in her ‘lifetime’ (she was 50), New Hampshire would go from growing zone 5 to a 7 or 8.

Think about that for just a minute.

If we go to a 7 or 8 growing zone, the ski industry will be a thing of the past, the sugar maples will die from heat and pollution, and the maple syrup industry will be over in this country. If New England increases two growing zones, what does that mean for Florida and all of its fruit growers, as well as the rest of the country? It really is mind-boggling.


I keep trying to explain this to people and they refuse to believe it. They say things like “not all scientists agree on this.”

Except, yes, really, scientists all agree on this. All of them. They may not be sure how long the change will take and where it will happen first, second, third, but that it will happen? 100% agreement that the climate is changing fast and people who are already well into middle age will live to see the results.

Many people apparently believe “climate change” is something that happens all of a sudden. Like in exactly 12 years, the world’s “life” switch turns off and that’s it. Game over.

But this isn’t sports and there are no innings or overtime. Folks don’t realize change is a varied process. Changes will happen incrementally at different rates in different places.

Many people really don’t want to know, so they refuse to hear it. It doesn’t matter if you are a saint or the worst sinner on Earth, there’s no “get out of jail free” card on this. And the stuff that the current administration is doing to the environment is absolutely going to make it happen faster and uglier. It is terrifying and frustrating to try to make the determined non-believers recognize that yes, really, this is scientific fact and anyone who believes in science agrees.

The disbelievers are not scientists. They are misinformed bloggers or people who have degrees in other areas, but not climate.

Climate change is not a lie. It isn’t fake. It will ruin your world even if you don’t believe it. What can you do? Vote people into office who will make the effort to protect us. Those currently in power believe they can treat the world however they want and there are no consequences. But there are already significant consequences if you choose to look.

All I hope for is a change in administration so whoever is in charge understands what needs to be done will be in charge and take us off this edge of the world in which we are standing. I’m not good with edges and ledges.

CHANGING THE SEASONS OF THE WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

I haven’t read the official report, but I’ve read a lot of summaries and I wasn’t at all surprised by any of it. Twelve years left and then we can’t “save the earth.”

I consider it highly unlikely we’ll make that deadline.

I was one of the enthusiastic founders of the original Earth Day. Over the years, as we have cleaned up a lot of the inland waterways — the Blackstone and Hudson Rivers are two notable successes — and cleaned up the air around New York and on the west coast — I knew we weren’t making progress fast enough, but at least I could believe we were trying to head in the right direction.

Now with the big orange dictator setting up the world for extensive additional pollution, I wonder how quickly we will bring about our own doom?

People are the problem.

Our misuse of the earth, our pollution of the waters, our coughing up of coal dust into the air? People. Human beings. We did it, are doing it, and are unlikely to stop.

No other animal has polluted anything. Just people.


And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

— English Standard Version, Old Testament (Torah)


I’m not religious, or at least not in any traditional sense. Moreover, I don’t think the seven books of the Old Testament — the Torah — are close to the whole story. I have a lot of backup for this belief. It is widely believed there were hundreds of biblical books, most of which were destroyed during the first burning of the Great Temple. And then again, whatever was left were burnt in Alexandria. Even the memories of what was remembered died with the old Rabbis between the Crusades and the Holocaust.

A pack of gray wolves passes by a remote camera within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The landscape surrounding the failed nuclear reactor now supports a large population of wolves due to the limited human activity.

Hundreds of other books that were equally as holy as the seven we currently revere were burned, buried, destroyed. Do you think maybe they had something to say to us? Maybe this bit of text was not intended to tell us to exploit and despoil every inch of earth and every animal on the planet?

We have dominion over the earth, but we have not ruled the earth so much as destroyed it and now, it’s on the edge of fighting back.

I read a report recently about how well the area around Chernobyl has revived. Without human habitation, it has blossomed and wildlife has returned in plenitude. It’s not that the radioactivity has vanished, but that somehow, the world finds a way to move forward, radioactivity and all.

It turns out the earth can handle nuclear devastation. The only thing that it can’t manage is us.

Bee-eater in flight

This report does not offer us a lot of turnaround time — a mere dozen years. Perhaps you can take comfort in that although the earth may well become untenable as a place for human habitation, once it extracts us, it will be beautiful again as it was when we lived in the Garden of Eden, right below the mountains bordering Syria.

I have, by the way, been there. It’s an incredibly beautiful place where the underground waters that feed the Jordan river fountain up from the earth and wild bee-eaters take flight.


There are two signs on the path to the place.
In Hebrew, the words are “גן עדןmeaning “garden of Eden.”
The other sign says, in English, “Paradise.”

I felt, being there, that indeed if there was an Eden, this could be it. 

You might also take a look at Gordon Stewart’s “Climate Change in the Golden House.”

SHARING MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 9-24-18

Rules

I will post four or five different questions each week for you to answer.  There are two ways in which you can participate:

Create a SYW  post.  Then post the link to your blog in my comment box or leave your answers in the comments box of my blog.

To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Share Your World”  and link it to this post.

Remember to Follow My Blog to get your weekly reminders.

 Ping-backs are activated and are working well.  For instructions on how ping-backs work, in case you weren’t certain, please click here.

I usually will respond to your entry on your blog, rather than on my page.  


Questions:

Last week I asked a question about favorite beverages and the overwhelming favorite was coffee.   If you drink coffee, how do you like it best?  Hot, cold, iced, with cream, with sugar or black as black? 

Hot coffee almost always, although every once in a while, I get a yen for iced, but not the commercial stuff with all that whipped cream and sugar.

Always with cream or half-and-half and fake sugar (Splenda). I don’t use fake sugar for other things, but in hot drinks, I do because of the way my system works, sugar hits me hard and sometimes badly when in hot drinks.

Oddly, I drink tea with nothing in it at all, not milk or lemon or sugar. I also love green tea, especially with Asian food. Only real tea, not that new-age herbal stuff which isn’t tea. It’s something, just not TEA.

In your opinion, what’s the greatest invention of our age?   

Computers and all of the things that go with them. Modern cameras and sound machines. I could probably live without cell phones, but I’m very good working with everything else.

I just don’t like new cell phones. Oddly, I liked the less smart ones back in the 90s. When you could make actual phone calls and hear what the other guy was saying.

Global warming?  Reality or myth?

The other day, Garry and I were driving around looking for Manchaug and I pointed out that this is the end of September and there is no sign of fall.

Summer has gotten longer and so has winter. Spring was never a big contender around here, but now, there’s really none at all. I have the pictures to prove it. This date even two or three years ago, half the trees were changing color and the nights were chilly while the days were crisp.

I have a closet full of cool weather jackets and coats that I don’t wear because it is summer — three days of cool weather — then the snow begins. Spring is cold. Sometime in April it stops snowing (usually), but the flowers we always got in May don’t show up until late June or even July. This year, we’ve had a re-blooming of daylilies (NEVER seen that before) and the rhododendrons re-bloomed, too.

When it finally got warm enough for the flowers, everything went into a hyper-growth mode. It was like summer in Alaska. Everything grew twice as fast as before, I suppose to make up for the missed months.

It has chilled down a lot in the past few days. I got up in the middle of the night and put on a flannel nightgown. I get cold more easily now than I used to. I think this is an aging thing. Garry gets cold too.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We used to get at least a month and on a good year six to eight weeks of Autumn in New England. Around the middle of September, a cold snap. The leaves would almost overnight change color. At least we HAD fall. Last year we had ONE week. Just one. Summer dragged on well into October and finally, we got one great week, then the leaves just fell down. Plunk.

Good thing I took pictures.

It’s not the same every year, mind you. But the seasons have absolutely changed. Everyone notices. It’s hotter where it was always warm, but now it is hotter and stays hot longer. The fires burn longer. The storms are more intense and, as good old Donzo says, “wetter.” Never have I been gladder we moved from the coastline a bit inland. Not enough inland, though. These devastating rains will get to us, too. It’s not an if, just a when.

I don’t know what I expected from climate change. I didn’t expect the explosions of rain and snow and storms and fires. The unevenness of it. There is no sequential flow to the seasons now. Stuff just happens and it happens big. There are no little storms. Everything is over the top. Superstorms with the kind of rain we’ve never seen in our lifetime.

Is that enough climate change for you? It works for me. There is no debate on this. We are in the midst of something scary and dangerous — and we are making it much worse.

But that’s because we have a moron running our country.

Are you an explorer or more a homebody?

Both. I like to explore. Then I want to go home.

What were you grateful for this week? 

We found Manchaug!

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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF STORMS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

The news has been inundated recently with reports of Hurricane Florence, which is bashing North and South Carolina. I’ve always wondered why so many people refuse to evacuate when the government tells them to. And why people don’t adequately prepare even when they’re told exactly what to expect.

Hurricane Florence

I read an interesting article on this subject by Robert J. Meyer in the Washington Post on September 12, 2018. He addressed the psychological issues at play when people face an impending natural disaster. The article is called “Why do people stay put during hurricanes? Here’s what psychology says.”

Despite endless warnings and specific information and suggestions about what to do to stay safe, lack of preparedness is responsible for most of the property damage and loss of life in major storms. “…lack of preparedness…is caused by cognitive biases that lead people to underplay warnings and make poor decisions, even when they have the information they need.”

people shopping to prepare for hurricane

Failure to evacuate resulted in 40 drowning deaths in Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Surveys showed that only 20% of residents had a preparedness plan. And that storm was hyped up the wazoo! It hit my area so I know! We even took our boat out of the water and planted it in the parking lot of the marina to minimize the likelihood of costly damage.

What goes wrong in these situations? Here are some of the cognitive biases that lead us astray in natural disasters.

Excessive optimism is the first cognitive bias that kicks in. People understand that many residents of their area will be affected. They just don’t believe that THEY will be negatively affected. Others rationalize that they survived other storms without preparation so why not this one?

Hurricane Florence in North Carolina

Herd thinking also comes into play. If neighbors aren’t preparing then there’s no social pressure to do more than the basics.

Myopia is another key psychological factor in lack of adequate preparedness. People are short-sighted when it comes to spending money or expending energy on preëmptive actions. They focus on the immediate cost and discomfort, not the more abstract future benefit. So they cheap out on preparedness measures and take the easy way out.

Amnesia also colors people’s anticipation of a natural disaster. People tend to remember the facts of a past storm, but forget how awful it felt to live through it. Memories of emotions fade faster than memories of facts. So reminding people how bad it was the last time seems to have limited effect.

Sound decision-making is impaired by inertia and simplification. People who are unsure what to do, often do nothing. That’s the principle of “inertia at work.” Simplification results in people doing just a few of the many things necessary to be adequately prepared. The thinking goes, “I’ve done three out of twelve things to be safe so I should be okay.” In Hurricane Sandy, 90% of residents bought supplies – but only enough for ONE DAY without power. Woefully inadequate and unrealistic! We were without power for six days, and we were lucky!

The article concludes that the key to better preparedness in the future is accepting the reality of these destructive cognitive biases. We can’t change them so we have to work around them. We have to design preparedness plans that accept them and anticipate them. For example, give people ORDERED lists that say “If you’re only going to do three things, these are the three things you should do.”

Science has increased our ability to predict hurricanes and other natural disasters. But science can’t reduce the human and property damage done by these weather events.

Psychology is the key to helping people make better decisions when they are faced with nature’s destructiveness.