Where Is Winter?

A pleasant afternoon, cool with a smattering of fluffy white and gray clouds scudding across the cerulean blue sky. There is just the hint of a breeze, just enough to move small limbs a tad.

We are a third of the way through January and it still seems like November as this winter without a winter continues. A surprisingly large number of folks are celebrating the lack of snow and cold. My post-polio body is certainly relieved not to face prolonged cold; I have worn thermal underwear just two days thus far. Mostly though, I find the warmth disheartening.

On a more mundane note, my knee feels better. I’m scheduled for an MRI in a couple of weeks and we will see where things are then.

It seems many of my friends are focused on the drama in Washington where both sides doing their best to ignore the enormous problems we collectively face. They seem inclined to continue to kick the proverbial can further down the road as they have done for decades, apparently not noticing that we are approaching a cliff. If this were a cartoon it would be funny.

Regardless, instead of thoughtful action, we are treated to a high stakes version of reality television in which both parties create as much drama as possible. While the drama may make for compelling tv, it mostly serves to keep us divided and to distract us from the profound problems we must collectively address. Sadly, this strategy is proving remarkably effective.

It is not that the decisions being made in Washington and states around the country, and world, are not important; they are terribly important to the wellbeing of many, mostly marginalized people and other beings. (Yes, women remain marginalized!) It is just that in the greater picture, they are too often symptomatic of much larger problems which remain obscured by all the smoke and mirrors. (One may forcefully argue that the fate of marginalized communities will be the fate of the planet.)

A well designed study came out this week that received remarkably little air play. Using the latest computer models which incorporate AI, the research team discovered that at current trajectories 90% of the planet will experience both stifling heat and severe drought, the combination driving food and water supplies into extreme shortages. And those of us with ready access think we pay a lot for food and water now!

As is too often the case, in the study, or at least the press reports of the study, the researches did not address the impacts of said heat and drought on ecosystems and their non-human inhabitants other than vegetation. It is crucial to remember that solving climate change is insufficient in itself. Stressed ecosystems yield further declines in species numbers and diversity, which in turn creates more instability and further declines. It is very difficult to feed people (and other organisms) if there is draught and/or few or no pollinators.

There are times I just want and welcome a diversion, especially when I am scared or bored. Diversions are good for us! In moderation. Diversion as a lifestyle can be, as it is now, life threatening. Yes, our predicament is daunting and scary, but it is not yet hopeless. The problems we face are complex and intersectional, making them all the more challenging but inaction, or the wrong actions, will drive them ever closer to insolvable.

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