Wacky Weather

Well, climate extremes continue to escalate around the world. In late December, this satellite image captures the epic storms moving across North America. While we hunkered down for a few days of snow and ice, The Grate Lakes area received record breaking snow and blizzard conditions which killed several people caught in the weather while trying to get home from work. Our own radar reads were not too agro, but the collective patterns are growing stronger, and later in 2023, California began to experience unprecedented storm fronts that keep on coming. What does all this mean for EEC Forest Stewardship? Hold on to your hats folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Our fruit trees were less than productive this year- drought, smoke, and grapple during flowering all played a role. Alfalfa crops were less productive because of late cold and wet spring weather, costing more and causing our reduction in flock numbers. Our chickens didn’t get broody this summer, many native plantings failed, and overall stress from environmental change effected all living things. We’re fast adapters here, but the intensifying storms will continue to erode stability across the planet. The earth is a closed loop system, so what comes our way will keep coming back around with the seasons. Right now, the rain is here, though it took its time in coming. We endured wildfire and 90F in October. November and December were colder than normal, and now we’re in a typical winter, but most of our rain is still somewhere else, and that somewhere right now is California.

The west coast experiences atmospheric rivers in winter thanks to our neighbor, The Pacific Ocean, and her weather patterns traveling up from the tropics in what is called “The Pineapple Express“. These rain events can last for days, or weeks. Western Washington is usually ready for these rains, with a temperate rainforest eager to catch moisture and bank it in the soil. This year’s climate change pushed the rains south into Cali, and boy did the heavens open up. Though CA has been in a very bad drought for many years, the rains were more a curse than relief, as the parched land has been unable to cope with the deluge and now, whole cities are evacuating because of floods. From wildfires to raging rivers and landslides, our southern neighbors are on a rough ride. With over one billion in infrastructure damage already, and more rain on the way, you can see how the continued building in catastrophic weather events compounds to overwhelm our vulnerable civilization.

These weather events will continue to compound, and ecology cannot keep up any more than our infrastructure. What’s the plan? Apparently, throwing money at it. However, the money going into “solving” climate does not acknowledge what’s funding climate change. Our developed world will not let go of fossil fuels in time, and I’m right there in the problem, consuming like all used to ease and comfort we enjoy though the rosy glasses of prosperity. Going electric has become the answer, but it’s only another folly, without infrastructure or enough renewables to power all the future cars, homes, and businesses we continue to build and develop. Exponential growth does reach its climax, then erodes away. We are eroding- and the literal ground dropping out beneath us seems compelling, but will not change the outcome of our actions, which are already at work and unstoppable.

More mining will be needed for more solar, wind, and thermal energy development. Plastics are irreplaceable in our daily life, and plastic is fossil fuel. The microplastics are in us already, and won’t be removed. The oceans are acidifying, and currents slowing down, slowing the storms that travel across the planet, allowing rains to stall over the land and dumping those record rains. Hurricane Harvey is a great example of this catastrophic event, which caused over 100 billion in damages. Even the winner of Power Ball can’t afford that kind of expense. Though they could fund the rebuilding of California’s infrastructure from these recent floods.

There is no stopping our current global system from continuing its rampage. We’ve passed that point, so most countries are dropping the idea of curbing emissions– especially the developing ones. Other nations are starting to cry out for compensation. Pakistan was hit with monumental flooding in 2022, then argued that top developed nations emitting the most pollution should pay up for damages. Rightly so on one hand, on the other, economic progress and share holder dividends. If we reported daily cost of climate change like we do the ebb and flow of the stock market, people might better understand the impact- especially financial, this wacky weather has on us all. The markets will not outpace mother nature. It is our financial system which is destroying the earth, so why not change how we operate? Because we can’t, especially fast enough to shift the course we’re on. So why care?

Things are still heading in the right direction. We’re past denying there is climate change (for the most part). America is trying to shift the narrative away from big oil. People are less violent now than ever, and more willing to cooperate in crisis. Though I’m not wishing crisis on us to make the world a better place. We’ll keep seeing great change in consumer products available. Out little farm is shifting away from livestock in the long run, as input expenses will become unforeseeable, like hay this year. I recommend all farmers look at growing bugs as food in future. Can’t predict, but we can plan ahead and have options to pivot towards as the change ramps up. I know it’s getting hotter in summer, dryer, and colder in winter here. We’ve stopped planting hemlocks and selected oaks. The change in hardiness zones will cause ecological collapse of many species, and it’s already in progress.

Move with the change or be consumed by it. We all die in the end, so live richly while you can and be prepared for the shifts to come. Accept reality, work with it, and be grateful we’re still living in a relatively survivable world. Technology has helped us map the changes, and could offer more solutions, but it’s still based in an extraction economy. What instead? I’m not sure, but here at home, we’re planting as much diversity into the soil as we can, slowing and sinking water for drought resistance, and pitching our roof lines to shed snow. It’s the people who can’t adapt facing the real struggle in climate change. Maybe we do owe Pakistan, and should start paying for our consumption on another level. A climate tax on all luxury goods. No insurance for building in flood prone places- using current climate mapping. Though I heard an argument once by a developer who said because septic systems can now be build air tight, homes could go in on the flood planes. Such madness!

Hey, because we can- we should! No, but the problem is the solution, and flooding brings a lot of very good things to the landscape if we learn to live and work with the gifts of weather, rather than fearmongering. The news was calling Cali’s atmospheric river out like it was some king of new monster coming from the deep. The rains have been monstrous, but the development in California has been too, and the water management poor, so you get serious reactions once flooding begins. Small steps, make small changes to help prepare yourself and your community for these weather events. People in Buffalo died in the cold, many of whom were expected to stay at work or loose their jobs, but they lost their jobs anyway, because they lost their lives. It is these short sighted mistakes, which will be our end if we cannot begin to comprehend the strengthening extremes facing humanity.

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