Thursday, November 8, 2012

Deny *this*

So, for those who haven't heard: the whole mid-Atlantic region, still struggling to recover from Sandy, was just hit with a "nor-easter" that knocked out still more power lines and delayed the repairs that were in progress. And, at least around here, dumped around four inches of snow on the ground. In November. Early November.

Snow does a lot more damage when it falls while there are still leaves on the trees. Instead of passing through the branches, it weighs them down until they break. It crushes smaller plants that haven't yet gone dormant for the winter. It's harder to shovel because there are damp leaves underneath that have to be cleared along with the snow. And because the daytime temperatures are well above freezing, what's left on the sidewalks melts during the day and freezes again at night, turning into slick ice that's much more hazardous to walk on than the snow itself.

So I'd just like to ask this one question of all the climate change deniers: do you claim that it's NORMAL to see this kind of snowfall in New Jersey in early November? And if so, why is our local vegetation so ill-adapted to deal with it?

Of course, they could just respond that, hey, this is just one freak storm, no evidence of a pattern—but that argument looks a tad weaker given that we were also hit with heavy snow around the end of October last year. Okay, maybe two data points don't make a pattern either, but two years in a row of shoveling snow around Halloween is enough to make me start wondering whether this is going to be the new normal, and what we need to do to prepare for it in future years. For instance, we're in the process of making changes to the landscaping in our yard; should our criteria for choosing new plants include the ability to survive early snowstorms? Should we avoid planting anything to replace the hedge that we removed in the front yard, on the grounds that having that area unobstructed makes it easier to clear snow off the sidewalks? Should we rip out all the shrubs in front of the house so that it will be easier to pile show into that area? (Almost certainly yes to that one, since the shrubs are way too big for the house anyway.) Should we take down the cinder-block wall that boxes in the front yard and replace it with something lower that would be easier to throw snow over?

I'm not sure yet how to answer these questions, but I find it incredibly frustrating that even as I ask them—even as the East Coast reels from the one-two punch of a massive post-tropical storm followed by what in the past would have been a freak snowstorm—some people are still responding to the warnings of the entire scientific community about global warming by, basically, putting their fingers in their ears and singing, "La la la, I can't hear you!"
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