Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Whining About the Weather

Those who deny the reality of climate change resulting from human activity like to point to each unexpected cold spell as “proof” that there is no such thing as “global warming.” But the climate change models argue that even as the overall temperature of the planet (as averaged over the course of the year) continues to rise, this increase will be accompanied by more extreme swings in local weather patterns. Columnist Thomas Friedman has given this phenomenon a name: “Global Weirding.”

Today it is feeling very weird indeed as we await the arrival of a major snowstorm on April 19. If the predicted 6-8 inches materialize, many of us will face an ethical dilemma: are we morally required to shovel wet, heavy snow that will be gone within three days? If the snowplow comes through, we will likely have no choice—the snow-blower that I put away for the year weeks ago will be summoned back to duty. Oh, and the ice scrapers and brushes are back in the cars while my snow tires are sitting on a rack at the tire store.

What a spring! Last week we were in the 70s, and I got my yard work started even as the massive storms that spawned multiple tornados and hailstorms approached. Raking out the lawn was like cleaning up a battlefield: there were many patches of fur and feathers, testifying that our feeders created a buffet table for the local hawks over the winter. Sadly, the hawk to rabbit ratio was not nearly high enough, and the rabbits did their usual damage, girdling all the forsythia and mowing down the raspberries among other insults. My estimate of the final score is rabbits 6, hawks 2, McFadden 0.
Last year I was able to start planting spring vegetables in late March. Given how wet the ground is (and how much wetter it is about to become), this year it may be June before the first seed is planted. Bah!

Being as I am a 63-year-old ordained clergyperson, one might reasonably assume that I have cultivated rich gifts of wisdom and patience that enable me to place such minor inconveniences in proper perspective. I know, for example, that God is good and is present to us in all circumstances. I know that it is our relationships with others that give life joy and meaning. I know a lot more stuff like that. But I reserve my right to whine.