Saturday, 27 November 2010
The Day after Tomorrow
So, there’s this action movie playing in the neighborhood, where the Atlantic freezes over as a result of climate change, the Statue of Liberty is encased in ice, and Scotland disappears under a mountain of snow. Unfortunately the theatre where it’s playing, is our back yard. The first sprinkle was on November 22, then came Apocalypse Now . A dump like this, in November, hasn’t been seen for 20 years.
Just in case some of you try to accuse me of fraud, of using snow pictures from last year create a sensational blog that will make a lot of money, I'm including a picture of our garage. The green doors were painted last summer. So Amber and I are back in our snow routine. The car, with its snow tyres is parked at the end of our access road. The fridge is stocked. Anticipating this show, I planted long garden stakes to mark where to dig up carrots, leeks, turnips and parsnips. No more digging exploratory trenches to look for vegetables, thank you very much. I’ve also inserted a post in the garage to shore up the roof.
The weathermen point to their charts, incomprehensible except to the expert. They reckon that the Atlantic Jet Stream somehow lost its way, and doesn’t know where to find it. And so the frigid weather in Poland and Scandinavia has wandered over to the UK, to help find the lost Jet Stream. Actually, last April, Professor Lockwood, a climatologist at Reading University published a paper in which he warned us that this would happen. That it is linked with a period of very low sunspot activity. Here's the article.
Low solar activity link to cold UK winters
Climatologists have long recognized that the solar cycle affects our climate. Sceptics of man made global warming seized on this factoid like pit-bulls and won’t let it go, saying, "Our climate change is all the sun's doing, so tighten up folks and keep driving your cars." However solar variability cannot explain the Earth’s temperature --- still rising, or Greenland's melting glaciers. What Lockwood and others showed is that the solar cycle can explain changes in local weather patterns, such as the position of the Jet Stream. So, while Scotland shivers, the Spanish and Italians are baking. Even places in Greenland today have highs of 8 Celcius. Looks like the Scots drew the short straw of global warming effects.
Because of the sun’s role in our climate, I regularly check out solar activity. The website Spaceweather.com shows the latest pictures of sunspots, solar flares, and spectacular movies of the Northern Lights.Even comets. Lately solar activity is picking up and the sun is putting on a show for anyone who is looking. This also gives me hope that, if Lockwood is right, the coming winters won’t be as severe as last winter. But we may have to plough through one more.
As Mark Twain remarked, “Everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it.” So what next, now that the Day After Tomorrow is here?
We keep the house warm, the fire roaring in the fireplace and look out over our austere landscape. And we write, without the distraction of shopping or joy riding in the outer world. I like to take snow walks down our road. We rarely meet any vehicles. The white landscape contains an unearthly silence that belongs to another order than ours. Years ago on a business trip to Calgary, I tried to capture the sensation in this poem.
Is not information.
Information is time, knowledge, the computer.
Our information age of
Where, what, why, how and when.
Words we value most.
But whiteness is the other.
It blinds your earthly eyes.
Buries under its cloak
All knowledge, information and memories.
And in its silence you discover
Earth and the deep sky’s ornament.
Certainty - and a vision of how things are.