Climatology

Weekly Planet: Global climate challenges and the truth | Perspective

This past week in Vermont in mid-May, temperatures are into the 80s. I was still watching out for frosts in early May, so the speed of the transition has been stunning.

My spinach and lettuce wintered-over under glass and a wide range of cool weather crops (peas, chard, kale, broccoli and brussels) are growing well. I have planted seed potatoes, and on May 11, all our summer and winter squash were planted, since the forecast minimum temperatures in the next 10 days range are over 40 ° F. We watered a lot during a week of dry days until the rains came. Growing our own food is valuable, as the global commercial agricultural system is a multi-sided disaster impacting forests, soil quality and generating methane to drive climate change.

As commercial food exports from Ukraine have been cut off, some have realized it would be really wise for peoples in Africa to shift back to the rich variety of indigenous foods they traditionally grew for themselves. We are fortunate in Vermont that so much can be grown locally: most vegetables and herbs, as well as milk, yogurt and cheeses, and grass-fed sheep and goats. For me, it is also a gift to discuss crops with farmers at our local markets and a delight to see the thoughtful long-term development of Vermont farming.

But on a global scale, climate breakdown accelerates and new climate extremes are being reached everywhere. Nations promised in 2015 to work to keep the mean global temperature rise below 1.5 ° C, but promises have not been kept, and this threshold may be crossed in the next five years. Record temperatures in South Asia, reaching up to 120 ° F, have made life desperate for millions in India and Pakistan, where few can hide inside with air conditioning. Spreading droughts are increasing wildfires.

In the US, huge fires near Las Vegas, New Mexico, have so far blackened more than 465 square miles (300,000 acres). It was a prescribed burn lit by the Forest Service that got out of control in a region of extreme drought. The NOAA drought map from May 3 shows large regions of severe to exceptional drought in the western US, while Vermont and the Northeast have been spared for now.

Very little is now under our control in both the natural and human worlds. Let us step back and restart with the “truth that sets us free,” since the living Earth system, after waiting for decades for humanity to stop destroying the Earth for profit, is taking over the climate system. The Creation and the living Earth system are inseparable from the “truth that sets us free,” even though this is heresy to human power, trapped in lies. Everywhere we look, human society is lost in these webs of lies. These come from politicians, the fossil fuel empire, ‘business as usual’ capitalism’s consumer growth model that is destroying the planet Earth, all the way to Putin’s war to destroy Ukraine, based on his personal web of lies.

In the Vermont world, I have spent five months rescuing the West Haven Community Solar Array from bankruptcy, neglect and theft by the “Clean Energy Collective” a corrupt business that stopped maintenance and stole all the assets of the array. Readers know that truth and integrity are central to business, but pretense is easy since advertising has trained us to accept many levels of deceit. But in the climate world, the direct intervention of the living Earth system removes these fake choices. We have to wake up fast, take a deep breath, dump the social webs of lies, and cooperate with both the truth and the difficult reality ahead.

The stunning extreme event in late March was in eastern Antarctica. Our COP26 politicized world has believed that the melt of the vast, thick, cold ice-sheets of eastern Antarctica was centuries into the future. So for now, we can just go on making money. Earth, however, is exploring how to deal with the human menace.

On March 19, a new temperature record was set at the Concordia weather station on the eastern Antarctica plateau that was 70 ° F (40 ° C) above the 30-year climatology, just by sending warm air down from the deserts of Australia. Shocked scientists simply said: “If you had told me three days ago this would happen, we would never, never have believed you.” For the first time, a small ice sheet broke off from eastern Antarctica. Overnight, we glimpsed a new world, where a 20-30-foot global sea-level rise from the combined melt of the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets becomes a possibility in the next few decades. There is nothing we can do about it, except connect more deeply with the living Earth system, and reverse course at once. The Antarctic is warming more than four times as fast as the Northern Hemisphere.

Everything is interconnected, including the latest political maneuvers by lying politicians to force women to have children they cannot support to keep our population of capitalist consumers growing. Lost in their lies and bullying of women, these fake Christians cannot even glimpse the truth and love of Jesus that sets you free to act on behalf of the Creation, not human stupidity.

It is better that we step into the sunshine and connect to the living Earth instead. Every spring, the hummingbirds bring us joy when they return to the feeder we hang up on Mother’s Day.

Dr. Alan K. Betts lives in Pittsford.

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