Climate Change

Published 3:49 pm Thursday, August 29, 2013

“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” — Mark Twain.

It seems that Mark Twain had the weather figured out well over a century ago.

Yes, even before the greenhouse effect and fossil fuel emissions became household words, the noted author understood weather.

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In Twain’s view, climate was the big picture. Weather was more like a collection of daily snapshots.

Unfortunately, we aren’t the ones holding the camera.

No, we don’t get to choose our weather, a fact that has bothered humankind since the beginning of time.

It’s hard to imagine, but there was a time when Earth enjoyed a perfect climate. It was so pleasant, in fact, that Adam and Eve strolled around the Garden of Eden sans clothes. But outside the garden a storm was brewing, and once the first couple stepped outside they noticed a drastic change in the weather.

You might say that Adam and Eve discovered weather, and we’ve been learning to deal with it ever since.

No one escapes the weather.

The Bible is pretty clear on the subject. Since the beginning of time it has rained on the just and the unjust.

Is that about to change?

The Old Farmer’s Almanac can’t quite seem to decide.

A decade ago the Almanac reported, “Global climate is changing, and there is no simple answer for what is shifting the world’s weather.”

The Almanac went on to describe recent weather phenomena — like basketball-size hail in Spain. I doubt if anyone would be willing to play that game of hoops with Mother Nature.

In July 2004 scientists recorded the largest raindrops ever seen. Each drop was one-quarter the diameter of a golf ball. For golfers, that would add a whole new dimension to the term “water hazard.”

In January 2005 it was so warm in Russia that bears woke up from their hibernation. The bears were barely awake when it started snowing again — a record snowfall for Moscow.

So what exactly is going on?

Some climate change culprits may surprise you.

Did you realize that “bio-aerosols” are not all man-made? They also include plant pollen, spores, and hair and fur particles. Add that to the billion tons of aerosol pollution filling the sky and something is bound to change.

At any rate, when aerosols fill the air, it’s not a good thing. Some of them reflect sunlight, cooling the atmosphere, while others absorb heat.

It’s no wonder the weather is so changeable.

Five years ago the Old Farmer reported in his Almanac, “We at the Almanac are among those who believe that sunspot cycles and their effects on oceans correlate with climate changes. Studying these and other factors suggests that a cold, not warm, climate may be in our future.”

The 2014 Almanac reported the following long-range forecast: “Brrrrr! It looks like global warming will soon be taking a vacation to make room for Old Man Winter.”

“This winter (of 2014) is shaping up to be a rough one,” stated Janice Stillman, editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac. “Sweaters and snow shovels should be unpacked early and kept close by throughout the season. The good news is that the extra precipitation—which will fall as rain or snow depending where you are—will help with any drought issues left over from the summer.”

The Almanac further stated: ”A decline in solar activity combined with ocean-atmosphere patterns in the Pacific and Atlantic will result in below-normal temperatures and above-normal snowfall during most of the winter across much of the United States.”

We certainly know more about the weather now than in Mark Twain’s day, but like the folksy author once said, “Everybody grumbles about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”

Maybe it’s time we did.

Climate is still the big picture and can’t be altered overnight, but a change of focus just might help.