Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It's not wise to fool with Mother Nature

A year ago today, we were in the midst of getting ferociously snowed on. Starting late tomorrow we're forecast to get a bunch of rain. Forty years ago today, the Edmund Fitzgerald sank near Whitefish Bay in the midst of a storm on Lake Superior. The Armistice Day blizzard, seventy-five years ago tomorrow, killed almost 150 people. More recently, the 1991 Halloween blizzard was another clear example of the gales of November coming early.

November 6, 2013 snowfall
November 6, 2013 snowfall
Photo by J. Harrington

Much of what I've read about the effects of global warming on the weather notes that storms will be more intense. Future Novembers hold the prospect of being very interesting, and dangerous, if past events are a baseline for intensity and volatility. Now, while we're enjoying today's sunshine and relative warmth, imagine if either of the recent train derailments in Wisconsin had occurred in the midst of any one of those historical storms. Cleanup and restoration of rail service would be even more challenging. Depending on the weather, environmental cleanup might not even be possible. Would you care to speculate why today's politicians behave as if they've successfully repealed Murphy's Law? There's limited concern expressed about acute disasters like oil train explosions in heavily populated areas. Less so, by quite a bit it seems to me, regarding chronic issues such as elevated mercury levels in a high percentage of children in the St. Louis River watershed. Then, when I look at the field of Republican presidential candidates, I'm willing to confirm the Murphy was an optimist. The more I consider who we elect theses days, and what they do to us after election, the more I find Homo sapiens to be a notable misnomer. Or, are we actually smart but just unlucky? I grew up in a neighborhood that firmly believed "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." After the next election, will we end up ashamed of ourselves? How will we know?

The New Optimism

By Dean Young 

The recital of the new optimism
was oft interrupted, rudeness
in the ramparts, an injured raven
that needed attendance, pre-op
nudity. The young who knew everything
was new made babies who unforeseeably
would one day present their complaint.
Enough blame to go around but the new
optimism didn’t stop, helped one
pick up a brush, another a spatula
even as the last polar bear sat
on his shrinking berg thinking,
I have been vicious but my soul is pure.
And the new optimism loves the bear’s
soul and makes images of it to sell
at fair-trade craft fairs with laboriously
knotted hunks of rope, photos of cheese,
soaps with odd ingredients, whiskey,
sand, hamburger drippings, lint,
any and everything partaking of the glowing
exfoliating cleanup. And the seal
is sponged of oil spill. And the broken
man is wheeled in a meal. War finally
seems stupid enough. You look an animal
in the eye before eating it and the gloomy
weather makes the lilacs grow. Hello,
oceans of air. Your dead cat loves you
forever and will welcome you forever home.


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