Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘global warming

Really Happening

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It’s happening right before our eyes. The changes currently playing out on our planet are no longer just scientific theories. They are actual events. Record high temperatures. Droughts. Wildfires. Floods. Thawing permafrost. Rising sea levels. Shrinking glaciers.

I’ve tried to mentally prepare for the possibility of any of the first four catastrophes directly impacting our property, but the thing we are dealing with currently is only peripherally related to the wildfires burning in Canada just to our north. Our air quality is so bad the Pollution Control Agency is advising we avoid being outside and breathing the smoke particulate matter.

Measurements are reaching record levels for Minnesota.

We should probably hold more meetings to discuss how we can reduce our carbon emissions to net-zero by some future date. [sarcasm]

I asked Cyndie if we have any idea what to do in the case of a wildfire suddenly bearing down on our location. She said we should paint our phone number on the horses.

I’m sure they would be fine with that if we were able to find any paint and get them to stand still during the highly emotional panic that would be occurring as a fire threat is bearing down on our property.

Even though the dramatic stories of lost lives and property in the recent floods in Germany and China and the ongoing Bootleg fire in Oregon depict the trauma at the epicenter of such events, life at home feels strangely distanced.

Our horses are calm. Their grass is dryer than optimum, the flies are a constant nuisance, the temperatures are getting too hot again, and the smoky air makes breathing less fun, but they aren’t ones to complain. I sense they may still be contemplating whether the situation they now find themselves in –living out their days in comfort and safety with us– is for real, or not.

Based on my assessment of the reality of global climate calamities playing out in plain view right now, I can understand any hesitations they might have about the comfort and safety part.

There should be no denying anymore that the ramifications of human activity causing increased concentrations of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere are already playing out.

It really is already happening, whether people collectively acknowledge it, or not.

Every day that I don’t have to drive my fossil-fueled car anywhere is a tiny victory in my effort to reconcile still living with a carbon footprint that reflects how we got into this climate predicament in the first place.

May we all keep looking for individual ways to do something helpful, or simply stop doing things that are hurtful, long before governments and greater society finally get around to enacting more broadly effective changes.

I look forward to that really happening.

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Windows Open

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What a joy it is to be able to open our windows to the fresh spring air after months of being closed to the winter. Our thermometer registered a temp of 80°(F) for a bit and then dropped down when some clouds moved in. The clouds didn’t last and the temperature jumped back up with the return of direct sunlight.

We took a break from doing any major projects and enjoyed brunch with our visiting kids. Cyndie sent them home with grocery bags of leftovers and a few dozen free-range eggs.

I did sneak in a little time to give my bike a thorough spring cleaning. I pumped up the tires and oiled the chain in preparation for my first ride in two years.

At dusk, I stood out on the deck in the residual warmth of the day and watched Cyndie puttering around with her garden while she waited for the chickens to make their way into the coop for the night. We couldn’t see it, but somewhere there was an outdoor fire burning that gave the evening a comforting ambiance.

A pair of bats flitted about overhead, doing loops at several difference elevations.

Stepping back into the house, I was struck by how luxurious our home in the country is and how lucky we are to live here. Even more so during the pandemic.

I wonder what it will be like here in the coming years of continued warming of our planet.

At least we should be able to open our windows earlier and earlier each spring.

What a great milestone that is every year.

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Written by johnwhays

April 5, 2021 at 6:00 am

Virus Mania

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It’s as if there is some sort of pandemic or something. The coronavirus is everywhere. That invisible little bug that half the people think is being way over-hyped while over a million others are dead from and hospitals are being stretched beyond capacity is not magically disappearing in the way some hoped.

Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

Radio on-the-street interviews capture a scary number of people who complain they are tired of the pandemic and frustrated with officials who are struggling to mandate protocols that can limit the spread. Not the proudest moment for the human race.

Staying home all the time is too hard. Really? How hard is it?

What if we had to practice avoiding others for a whole year? I don’t know. Maybe try imagining how hostages who are held for four times that long muster the ability to cope.

We have the promise of vaccines to look forward to, so the beginning of the resolution of the pandemic is within sight. It would be nice if people could rise to the occasion of not making things any worse than they already are while we work through the process of vaccine distribution on the way to achieving herd immunity.

Try pretending that it isn’t a hoax. Play along with us for a little while, for the good of the rest of the world population.

After it’s all over, maybe all the people who have lost jobs and businesses can be retrained to become firefighters or search and rescue EMTs to deal with the increasing wildfires and flooding hurricanes that global warming has continued to exacerbate while we have been distracted.

Just call me little miss sunshine this morning.

Forgive me. I’m just reacting sideways to the unending reports of GOP and White House lunacy stinking up the remnants of our democratic election here in the U.S.

I trust there is hope for a better day hiding out there somewhere. [Insert joke about expecting to find a pony in here someplace.]

I’ll keep digging. And staying home as much as possible.

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Written by johnwhays

November 20, 2020 at 7:00 am

Beautiful Views

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Despite human industrial activity dumping carbon into the earth’s atmosphere for generations, grass and trees continue to jam carbon back into the soil. Imagine if we had enough forests and fields to reverse the changes our burning of fossil fuels has done to the atmosphere.

Thinking like that is more fun when gazing upon the beautiful views we enjoy than trying to wrap my head around the continuing damage that is being done every day, like driving my car for two hours a day during my 4-day workweek. Working from home on Fridays is a small token toward driving less.

We watched the NOVA episode, “Can We Cool the Planet?” on PBS last night. Seems reasonable to believe that we can cool the planet. The difficulty is whether or not humans will actually undertake the needed steps.

It certainly doesn’t hurt for individuals to strive to do their part, but the solution will require a collective global commitment. Based on the history of the human race, it is hard to picture how such a thing would even be possible.

Maybe an existential threat will be the difference that one day drives a coordinated response.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to plant trees and enjoy our lovely views.

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RS Interview 3

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Yes, there was more. The Relative Something interview with *The* John W. Hays meandered into the subjects of climate change and mental health. Are they related?…

RS: That’s enough of the namby-pamby rambling about pandemics and pets.

JWH: Uh-oh.

RS: What is it about your fascination with the weather every day?

JWH: You tell me?
I know, I know, I talk about the weather a lot. Doesn’t everybody? I mean, it SNOWED here yesterday! How can you avoid talking about that?

RS: Reading what you write, one might get the sense you are not a climate change denier.

JWH: [sarcastically] Well, it still gets really cold here and snows, so global warming might just be a hoax.
Some things in this world change gradually. I have been witnessing the constant increasing trend of fossil-fuel-emission-induced impact for my entire life. There were predictions made 30 years ago about the calamities the world is experiencing. Melting polar regions, rising seas, high-temperature records increasing, droughts, fires, floods, increasing intensity of storms. Honestly, simply seeing a graphic display of the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels during the industrial age compared to hundreds of thousands of years before should be enough for anyone to comprehend the reality. Human influence is changing the planet earth. What is the motivation to claim otherwise? At the highest levels of governance, corporations, and wealthy investors, I propose the motivation is financial. I can’t get my head around how anyone would be willing to risk our space ship for their greed to have more for themselves.

RS: Almost sounds like a mental health problem.

JWH: You brought it up. Dysfunctions of mental health could probably be viewed as the root cause of the majority of world problems. Wait… is stupidity classified as a mental illness? Sorry. Although, for me, education was a huge part of my success in dealing with my depression. My years of dysfunctional thinking were turned around in months after learning what was going on in my mind. Obviously, mental health issues are complex. In terms of addictions, we can educate someone about the harmful effects of smoking, but how many times has that knowledge been useless in getting someone to quit? Same challenge for every other mental affliction, I suppose. There are factors that go much deeper than just knowing. Maybe, more than simply having knowledge, there is an aspect of enlightenment involved.
Our thinking is intertwined with our physical chemistry. Our bodies are manufacturing and distributing mood-altering drugs. Our physical bodies are influenced by invisible forces around us. Moods are contagious. A well-educated person can be intelligent about a lot of subjects, yet be oblivious to how their anger is triggering chemicals in their body and how their angst is triggering people around them. That gap in perception can be narrowed by becoming more enlightened. More self-aware.
Increased self-awareness helps to open up the capacity to become more globally aware. An enlightened view would encompass equal cognizance of both self and others.
I don’t know if it’s obvious where I am going with this, but it has to do with love.

RS: Love seems like a worthy topic!

to be continued…

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Written by johnwhays

October 17, 2020 at 10:26 am

Alternative Route

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I don’t know how long it will last, but on Monday I stumbled upon an alternate route to the “classic editor” I prefer and have used successfully for years prior to the so-called great [cough] “block editor” that became the WordPress default as of October.

Aah, the good old days.

This week we are enjoying an alternative October in the form of very summer-like high temperatures outside. It is strange to have the hours of daylight rapidly changing when the weather is so warm. The two phenomena don’t usually happen together to this extreme. Isn’t it odd to have weather behaving wacky at this point in the history of the planet?

Oh, I guess it’s not odd at all. Scientists have been predicting this for decades. Gee, if we don’t make significant changes in our reliance on fossil fuels, icebergs in the polar regions will melt, weather patterns of storms, droughts, floods, fires, and temperatures will become more extreme, and geographies and economies will be at risk.

Throw in a model of a global virus pandemic at the same time and you have the makings for a real stomach churner.

I suppose the insidious rise of extreme ideologies in multiple nations around the world touting white supremacy or fear of any diversity at all could be the icing on this growing mess of craziness.

The scourge of social media platforms enhancing the idiocy and ignorance could be viewed as the sprinkles on that icing.

Might there be an alternative route to love and enlightenment awaiting discovery by a collective of seekers?

It seems to me that a fair number of individuals find ways to grasp that golden ring, but can diverse populations of multiple nations ever make the bold leap en masse?

Cyndie and I practice an art of recovery from angst-producing situations that our horses helped to teach us by their ability to swiftly return to grazing calmly after a disturbance. When things appear to be spinning out of control, the vocalized phrase, “get back to grazing” helps us to put things in a healthier perspective.

It’s a way of paying heed to the bigger picture. Playing the long game.

Things might be out of control right now, but we don’t need to dwell in the worst of it all.

What I am wrestling with lately is the challenge of claiming my peace of mind in an immediate moment when so many others are enduring terrible suffering.

One alternate solution I experiment with is to fully embrace my good fortune of knowing infinite love, mindfully doing so in proxy for those who are not able.

To the innocents who have been unjustly confined, to those who have become prisoners of their own hate, to people who are victims of every manner of social injustices, I send love into the world in your honor.

It’s an alternate route that I dream someday might grow to become the main highway for all people of the world.

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October Snow

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I’d like to act all surprised over all the snowflakes flying this early in October, but we’ve had so many days of warnings this was coming that it’s something of a feigned surprise.

How can there be global warming? There is snow falling in October!

For those of you who think this way, go talk with the people suffering more wildfire calamity in California today or any of the record-breaking typhoon/cyclone/hurricane intensities over every ocean on the planet with each successive formation.

I’m sure these incidents and all the melting glaciers and polar ice are just a coincidence.

I grabbed a screenshot of the Weatherbug radar image with our location southeast of the Twin Cities showing the spread of falling snow from Buffalo to Beldenville.

The wintery weather has me thinking I should have already blown out the water line to the labyrinth and drained all of our garden hoses. Cyndie reported the water for the chickens was frozen this morning. At least she had already installed the plexiglass window panes over the metal hardware cloth in each of the openings earlier this week.

It’s probably a good thing the Twins got booted from the baseball playoffs so they don’t have to play games in this kind of weather.

We’ve got a fire in the fireplace and I am gazing out at the deck collecting flakes with trees full of leaves as a backdrop. It makes me think of a certain Halloween blizzard (1991) for the drastic cross-mixing of fall and winter.

Of course, I also have a vivid memory of the Halloween night it was so uncharacteristically warm I went for a long bike ride to enjoy the late taste of summer.

Luckily, today our location won’t get much in the way of an accumulation from this system, but it definitely serves as an attention-getter for what lies ahead.

Much as I love winter weather, I’m in no hurry to get there this year.

It would be so nice to have time to actually finish the deck resurfacing project before snow shows up for good.

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Written by johnwhays

October 12, 2019 at 10:10 am

Windy Rain

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It was a dark and stormy night last night. Really. It was! Once again, we were pressed by winds that made the house flex and bent our trees over dramatically. It boggles my mind that anything remained standing, with our soil as saturated as it is.

There are small footprints in the mossy ground from young deer making the rounds in search of our many hostas, but the perennials have been slow to sprout in the absence of a warm and sunny growing day.

Cyndie says some of her labyrinth plants are showing signs of life, so maybe the deer will munch those until the rest of our “salad bar” landscape matures a little more.

I wonder what our property would look like if we stopped tending it and simply let the elements have their way. From one perspective, we are doing a lot to achieve desired results, but at the same time, our attempts appear rather feeble compared to the power of wind, precipitation, and temperature extremes that seem to know no bounds.

Grass grows faster than I can mow it. Trees sprout where we don’t want them, and fall over in greater numbers than I can clean up after. I think that if we stopped doing anything, it would look like a jungle within a year.

Who knows what will happen in the face of a climate crisis? I expect areas other than ours will experience more significant impacts, such as coastlines from sea level rise and ever-increasing hurricanes, or areas prone to wildfires. It’s hard to say whether we will see a change in temperatures that unequivocally shifts our growing season, changing what plants thrive or suffer.

The world is already experiencing more intensity out of everyday weather events. There doesn’t seem to be much reason to expect that trend to stop, given the slow reaction of society as a whole to alter the activities that brought this all on.

We want our electricity and our transportation to always be available for the ever-increasing world population.

It just means we need to keep adjusting to the weather extremes that show up as a result of our choices.

Today, it is cold rain and gale force winds. This summer, it will probably be something different. I just hope the week I am biking and camping in June will be a calm period between any other extremes.

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Written by johnwhays

May 22, 2019 at 6:00 am

Serious Soaking

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First, I want to share an image that I received from Cyndie yesterday morning after she read my post. Exhibit A:

She had forgotten to send it earlier, but my description of how Delilah loves rubbing her snout in the snow reminded her.

Just as I predicted, there is very little snow left now. It was very gloomy all day, and rained throughout, but being mostly chained to my desk, I didn’t really notice how much rain actually fell. All I had to go on for what was happening across the state line at home, was the weather radar.

My main concern was over how the thunder might be upsetting Delilah. I wasn’t sure about what hours she might have the company of Anna, our animal sitter who helps out between classes at University of Wisconsin – River Falls. It’s hard to pinpoint the minutes of big thunder claps booming.

I did find the telltale evidence of a throw rug at the deck door pushed up into a pile, indicative of her usual tizzy of “shouting” down the big bully who is threatening us with all that rumbling noise.

From her location and behavior when I walked in the door, I’m guessing she tired of the stormy weather and took refuge in the one place without windows. She didn’t get up until after I walked in –an uncharacteristic behavior– from the rug in a short hallway between bathroom and bedrooms, where she had obviously been sleeping.

The situation at home turned out to be an anti-climax to the alarming sights I witnessed on my drive after passing through River Falls. The whole way from work was wet, but closer to home there must have been an extreme downpour.

Just south of River Falls, I spotted the first epic flooding, where it was pouring over a side road, making it impassable. A short distance later, I noticed a car turning around on an adjoining County road. As my car moved past the intersection, I saw that a highway crew was trying to deal with a missing lane of asphalt that had washed away.

Five miles from home, I cross what is usually a little meandering stream, but the outlines of the banks were completely indistinguishable beneath what was now a giant flowing lake.

The water flowing in ditches looked like raging rivers. I worried about what I might find at home.

Luckily, although there was an abnormal about of water wherever I looked, the damage was minimal.

We now have a pretty significant washout on the path around the back pasture. I’m afraid I will need to resort to a bridge over that gully now, if I want to keep mowing that route with the lawn tractor.

It used to be a slight depression that I could drop into and drive up out of, to keep mowing without interruption. Any attempt to repair the gulf with fill, so I could continue to drive over it, would just get washed away with the next heavy rain.

That spot is calling for a load of field rocks, which then leads me to the plan of needing a bridge for the lawn mower.

Our land is in a constant state of change. I think the rate of change is accelerating due to a certain alteration of the global climate.

It’s intimidating.

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Written by johnwhays

April 18, 2019 at 6:00 am

It’s Possible

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Is it possible that the rising global air temperatures support higher amounts of water vapor aloft which can add fuel and intensity to localized weather events? Anecdotal evidence from my experiences certainly aligns with that line of thinking.

Today, we are granted a calm before the expected weekend punch of significant new accumulations of heavy, wet snow. It’s hard to know what to do with such a day. We don’t feel inclined to start any new projects while consumed by this looming distraction of an “other shoe about to drop.”

Who can concentrate when meteorologists are tossing out phrases like, “thunder snow!”?

“This storm looks likely to produce convective snow bursts Saturday afternoon and evening across southern Minnesota. That could mean thunder snow.

Snowfall rates may reach 2″ per hour for a few hours Saturday. Things could get crazy with lightning, thunder and snow coming down incredibly hard. If that happens, most of the accumulation could occur within just a few hours Saturday afternoon into evening.”

https://blogs.mprnews.org/updraft/2019/03/game-on-major-winter-storm-likely-this-weekend/

 

This storm sounds so intimidating, there was even a Minnesota Judge who issued a restraining order prohibiting any more snow in the state, “especially within Hennepin County.”

Of course, he was clear to communicate that this did not prohibit the storm from impacting Wisconsin, Iowa, or North and South Dakota. I suppose he did not want to seem to be ruling beyond his jurisdiction.

Weather forecasts being the educated guesses that they are, computer models show a possibility for some of Saturday’s precipitation to fall as rain, south of an indeterminate rain/snow dividing line. The restraining order doesn’t appear to include any provision for restricting rainfall.

Rain can really spoil a good snowscape, but if we get some of that, it will, at the very least, reduce the amount of plowing I would need to do.

Anything is possible.

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Written by johnwhays

March 8, 2019 at 7:00 am