Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Vicious Wind

This has been the windiest winter I can ever remember. The Northern Plains are famous for their blizzards with their heavy snows and howling winds, and the West Coast is subject to hurricane-force winds from storms blowing off the Pacific, but here in southern New Mexico, winter tends to be pretty mellow. Spring is the windy season.

But not this year. Today, they are predicting 60 mph gusts, and this is the third vicious wind storm this winter so far.

I’m really noticing the weather this winter, even more than usual, because I’m out in it all the time, building our Ark. The platform is essentially done – the floor joists are in, the plywood floor is nailed onto the joists, and yesterday I finished the siding so the whole thing is boxed in. Now I can start building the actual room.

Since they’re predicting rain, I wanted a temporary waterproof membrane to protect the plywood, so I had Laura buy another large plastic tarp when she went into town yesterday. She got home just as it was getting dark, so we went out and laid down the new tarp, holding it down with bricks and pieces of lumber, and then laid down the old tarp overlapping onto the new tarp. We had the floor all covered except for a small section I planned on getting to this morning.

I planned on laying down one last piece of plastic, and carrying a massive amount of bricks, boards, pieces of firewood, and anything heavy up the ladder and onto the platform to hold the tarps and plastic down.

The weather, as one might expect, had other plans.

“Is that the wind I hear? I asked Laura when I woke up in the early morning darkness.

But I already knew the answer, and I already knew what I would find: tarps flapping noisily in the wind. We climbed up to the top of the platform in the half-darkness before dawn and did what we could, but I quickly concluded that trying to fix the tarps was futile. So we dragged everything to the edge of the platform and gave it the old heave-ho.

Fortunately they’re only predicting a 10% chance of rain this time. Rain won’t ruin the floor, but I would really like to prevent that surface layer from getting wet. So our new plan is to paint the floor, to give it some measure of protection. This means more work and more expense, but hey, we wouldn’t be doing this if we weren’t already troupers.

I’m blaming global warming for all this, of course. I blame global warming for everything, and rightly so. The more energy you pump into a weather system, the more extreme it becomes. Thanks to global warming, all the vicissitudes of nature – droughts, floods, hurricanes, ice storms, blizzards, wind, hail, tornadoes – will be more extreme than anything we’ve ever been used to.

I like to speculate about what will happen once the Arctic icecap melts. At least at first, the Arctic Ocean will continue to freeze over every winter, but in early winter there should be a very interesting interplay of energy dynamics between the cold winter air and the relatively warm ocean... a dynamic that wouldn’t have happened as long as the water was covered by a cold layer of ice. So we shall surely see.

Usually my “inner idiot” is my primary interface mode, and for this I’m grateful. I usually enjoy whatever I’m doing, and get wrapped up in whatever today’s project is. I’m all too aware of what’s happening out there in the world, but it doesn’t bother me as much as it would if my inner idiot didn’t provide a buffer. But occasionally my defenses fail and I get really discouraged. The most recent incident involved my reaction to, of all things, a number.

Recently the enviros have been hyping a number: 350. This means a CO2 concentration of 350 parts per million. We’re already at 380, and rising fast. They say we need to get back down to 350 ASAP if we’re to have any chance whatsoever. Fat chance, I say.

Anyway, they recently had a conference of climate scientists in England, and the scuttlebutt there said that if we go all-out, maybe we can stabilize the CO2 concentration at 550 ppm. Otherwise, 650. The scientists were pretty freaked out by the implications of this.

I was too, because I realized they were talking about a mere temperature increase (which would be plenty bad enough), without factoring in the runaway greenhouse effect which will be caused by all the gigatons of methane released by the melting permafrost and from the seabed of the Arctic Ocean. When the stark inevitability of our upcoming new reality gets through my idiot armor and starts affecting me emotionally, it can quickly become unbearable.

So that’s where I was at last Friday, when a friend arrived at our home, bearing a heavy burden of grief. But that’s fodder for a whole other post.


Anonymous Jacques Conejo said...

Sad to say, but I guess I'm reassured to some degree
(as a herd animal) that other people are feeling these feelings and sharing them.

You describe your feelings about the "climate disruption" aspect of our current challenges. I think your awareness is unusual in that most of us can't begin to cope with the implications of serious climate change.

It seems I'm more prone than most folks, to feeling really uncomfortable most of the time, about what's happening to our planet, our species, our country, our culture, our town, our beings.

I pretty consistently feel like we're all living in the shadow of a great and growing tsunami of converging forces - a wave so massive that it increasingly blocks the light of the sun.

Against all my most hopeful wishes and affirmations, it just seems to get darker every day. I feel like that a lot.

I seem to be lacking the gift of being able to focus on projects and forget about it all. I envy your capacity to do that.

In a sad way I suppose it's at least comforting in some bizarre way to realize that others who I respect, also feel the chill within the shadow of the tsunami.

I'm sorry to hear of your friend's heavy burden of grief.

With no intention of diminishing your friend's grief, I imagine that before long, we're all likely to be bearing more grief than we thought possible. I think that grief on unprecedented levels, is something we'll all be acclimating to.

Whoopee! And that's the conclusion of another hope filled, enthusiastic, uplifting blurb from me.

Thanks for sharing your experiences and feelings Gordon...

Congratulations on your progress with "The Ark"!


10:36 AM  

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