Monday, May 27, 2013

Whether Or Not We Like It, Ain’t Much We Can Do About The Weather

The summer solstice is still three weeks away, but Memorial Day weekend, which is often referred to as the start of that season, certainly didn’t feel like it around these parts. Even though the actual holiday was pleasant and sunny with temperatures near normal, the atmosphere seemed to retain that last vestige of March’s lamb-like weather rather than what we expect in late May.
The forecast for the rest of this week is more seasonable, so maybe the spring we longed for has finally arrived.
Actually, May seemed more like March, as it came in like a lamb and, until today, looked like it might go out like a lion. Except for a few days in April and May, spring barely sprung.
When I was in the Army, stationed at Fort Collins, Colorado, years before global warming became a national debate, four inches of snow fell on Memorial Day, but less than 24 hours later, the sun melted the snow as the temperature hovered near a balmy 60 degrees.
The media and some businesses tend to rush the seasons. This time of year, they con us into thinking Memorial Day, albeit unofficial, is the start of summer. But it’s nothing more than a marketing ploy that we, the people, fall for, to promote their products.
For instance, movies that premiere in late May are typically referred to as “summer movies.” Yet, by July 4th, most of this weekend’s debuts depending on box office revenues and cinematic tastes will more than likely be pleasant memories waiting to be distributed on Blue Ray, DVD or forgotten wastes of time.
Hot or cold. Calm or breezy. Dry or humid. Until climate engineers discover a method to control the weather, grumbling about the weather will remain a national pastime. But, unless you’re a duck or get pleasure from raw, rainy days, lousy weather drags down our spirits, which lift when the weather is pleasant.
Thanks to scientific advances, weather is now more predictable than it was a generation ago. Daily weather reports are seldom pinpoint perfect, yet they generally provide enough data so we can plan outfits for the day.
For some, the Weather Channel supplements local news forecasts when we want to know what’s in store for the next few days. But, when it debuted 31 years ago, before most of us had access to cable television, who would have ever predicted the Weather Channel would become the reliable resource it is today?
Those who usually slam global warming and fail to comprehend the scientific evidence behind climate change must be chuckling. Nevertheless, this unseasonable weather and the radical conditions that produced Hurricane Sandy last fall, the destructive tornado that devastated Moore, Oklahoma last week, and floods and droughts across the Midwest, is more than likely due to that phenomena attributable to industrial pollution, greenhouse gases and other man-made factors. And we’ve experienced a lot of that lately, from extremely cold winters to unbearably hot summers to unexpected variations in autumn and spring.
Maybe the scientifically challenged, who customarily scoff at climate change prophecies, will be a little less skeptical after they hear about the report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The study revealed that the level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, which greatly affects our weather, has never been as high as it currently is, since humans first walked this planet, three hundred million years ago. After the release of the report at the start of Memorial Day weekend, experts noted that if this man-made crisis isn’t reversed, the future could be catastrophic.
Maureen E. Raymo, a scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, said, “It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster.”
Another professional said, “The time to do something was yesterday.”
That, in fact, was the theme of “An Inconvenient Truth,” the acclaimed 2006 documentary, narrated and promoted by Al Gore. Since then, nothing much has changed in the last seven years, except for more occurrences of extreme weather.
The only thing for sure is the forecast comedian George Carlin’s Hippy Dippy Weatherman calculated years ago: Weather for tonight: dark.
Oscar Wilde once said, “Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” Despite the observation, that ‘last refuge’ roused my Muse from its extended winter hibernation.
Incidentally, my favorite weather-related quote is by “Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk, from his novel, “Diary”: “Just for the record, the weather today is calm and sunny, but the air is full of bullshit.”