Monday, April 5, 2010

Let's Talk About the Weather

It was a really nice weekend - warm, sunny .... We went for a bike ride to our friends' house for dinner and an opportunity for our kids to get together and hang-out.

It seems like wherever I go, people are commenting on the warm weather trend we had this year - as if it's something odd or new.

It's not.

In 1998, the first spring Deus Ex Machina and I spent in our house, I recall it was very warm following a fairly mild winter (not much snow, and I thought, in my newbie naivete that I could never get sick of the snow. Ha! live and learn, my friends ;). One fine, warm, spring day, I donned a tank top and went out to plant my tomato seedlings despite the very good advice from my native Mainer neighbors to wait to plant such tender plants until the end of May.

A week later, we had a killing frost. It was the first time I'd ever seen a frost-burned plant. Not a pretty sight.

Yeah .... I didn't do that again ;) - although I have learned, since, that some plants actually like it a wee bit cooler, and I do plant those things this time of year.

We could say that 1998 was just an anomaly, but the fact is that 1998 was no record breaking year.

On April 5, 1991, it was 70° where I live (and in 1992, a hurricane came up the coast causing severe damage and flooding that blocked all of the major roads going north for several days). According to the Weather Underground, April 21, 1957 saw a record high temperature of 85° here in southern coastal Maine. Six days prior on April 15, 1957 the record low was 20°. Six days after that it was 52°, which is a more "normal" April temperature for this area.

The next year, on April 27, 1958, would see a record low of 25°.

The 1950s were just crazy weather-wise.

The point is that we tend to have very short memories. I hear people talking about global warming, and while I don't disagree that we are having some interesting weather patterns these days, I don't think this is terribly new. There isn't the metaphor about unpredictable weather for nothing. Metaphors are almost always based on an attempt to make a factual comparison between two things. The weather is unpredictable and quirky, and very warm days in Maine in April are rare, but not hitherto unheard of.

We need to stretch our long-term memories beyond what happened last week, and remember what we've been through, in our lifetimes, and do a little digging to learn what others have experienced, too. We need to remember, and we need to record, and we need to retell - the 3 R's of changing the inevitable, if you will - because, as George Santayana observed, those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

The price per barrel for crude oil is above $86 today.

We would do well to remember 2008. It wasn't so very long ago ... only two years.

In 2008, Deus Ex Machina and I replaced our old woodburning stove with a more efficient model, and in the summer of 2009, we stockpiled wood from trees that had blown down in the previous spring's storms, and in the winter 2009-2010, we heated our house for free.

Since 2007, Deus Ex Machina and I have been reducing our driving and have learned to live with just one car. So when our houseguests take over the use of one of our vehicles, it will not be a hardship for us. We've already been living the lifestyle.

The price for crude is almost $87 per barrel. The price of gasoline per gallon is edging toward $3. The price for heating oil is going to increase, too, and then, the price of natural gas will increase as demand for that fossil fuel increases when people can't get enough heating oil. As Suburban Survivalist stated in a comment it will snowball.

But as I said, we still have time - just maybe not a lot.

1 comment:

  1. The first week of June 1985, we lost our garden in northern VT to 2 hard frosts - what didn't get killed with the first one, died with the second. The native Vermonters paid attention to the news and the sky and covered their gardens. Needless to say, the garden centers were able to sell out the leftover tomato plants that year to all us flatlanders ;)

    Same thing with gas. I sat in the gas lines in the mid-70's. Cars with odd numbered license plates could buy gas on odd days and even numbered plates on even numbered days. And you had to get in line 3 hours before the gas station opened.

    The one thing that I like to point out is that even back then, the auto makers had the designs to make cars that could get 70-80 mpg, but they just wouldn't put them out there. Can you imagine how much fuel we could have saved in these past 35 years?

    You are sooooo right: humankind has a short memory. And we haven't learned.

    Keep writing, we're listening.