Recently, I heard the term ‘weather whiplash’ used to describe the meteorological events of 2023. Starting off with the warmest January on record, we knew we were in for a humdinger of a year of extreme shifts in weather. Throughout the winter months, the entire country experienced Mother Nature’s mood swings with either extreme cold snaps labeled ‘arctic blasts’ or unusually warm temperatures.
There were increasing numbers of devastating ‘bomb’ cyclones, tornadoes, and hurricanes tearing through the Midwest, South, and Mid-Atlantic, leaving hundreds of people dead, and homes, businesses, and communities destroyed.
Spring and Summer came with floods, fires, and heat waves. The wildfires that have raged on in Canada since May have reduced the air quality all over the world. Here in the Northeast, it has been particularly bad.
There have been several health warnings that have gone out over the last couple of months urging people to stay indoors to avoid breathing the air directly. If you had to venture outdoors, it was suggested you wear an N-100 mask to protect your lungs from the elevated levels of ‘particulates’ in the air caused by all the smoke. Even healthy people are at risk.
Now, we are amid catastrophic flooding in the Northeast, while scorching temperatures continue to bake all of us from coast to coast, increasing the risk of violent tropical storms. In other words, it is a ‘shit-show.’ And it will only get worse due to higher temperatures, heating of the oceans, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels.
Whether you believe in climate change or not, the frequency and intensity of these weather events are hard to ignore. And, it is happening across the globe, wreaking havoc on all our lives.
The way I see it, we can either stick our heads in the sand and pretend we have nothing to do with it, or we can assume responsibility for the impact humans have had on the earth’s ecosystem as the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Meteorologists are connecting the dots between climate change and extreme weather and attempting to educate the public by discussing creative solutions about fossil fuel alternatives. Unfortunately, for TV meteorologist Chris Gloninger, formerly the chief meteorologist for CBS affiliate KCCI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa, his attempts to educate viewers lead to multiple death threats.
Although most Americans accept climate change as scientific fact, those with opposing views have been known to scream the loudest and can become quite offensive with their language and obsessive with the target of their rage, as in Gloninger’s case. A steady stream of threatening emails resulted in severe PTSD, causing him to leave his job in Iowa and accept a new position with an environmental consulting organization in Massachusetts.
“Climate change isn’t an opinion, it’s fact-based science. But at the same point, if your ideas differ from somebody else’s, just be kind. Do not go on the offensive and attack,” Gloninger says. “We can live life with more love, kindness, and compassion … and we can all become better in that.”
Amen, Chris! We welcome you here in Massachusetts with open arms!
Although we may not to be able stop what is occurring, we can do our part in slowing the process down by taking steps to clean up our act. We could focus more on reducing our ‘sooty’ carbon footprint by reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and participating in more energy-efficient programs.
This past fall we had Mass Save do an energy assessment of our home. It is a free program here in Massachusetts, where a representative comes to your home to do a comprehensive home energy audit using advanced diagnostic tools to analyze levels of insulation, air infiltration, inspect heating systems, and more. It is a great way to learn how to increase your home’s energy efficiency with help from the experts!
The same goes for regular vehicle maintenance. That includes your car AND your body. Checking in with the health of your mind and body is just as important, (even more so), as having the oil changed in your car every five thousand miles or so to keep it running smoothly.
Even if you do not drive very often, it is best to change the oil at least twice a year. As far as your body goes, yearly checkups and screening exams for cancer and other illnesses could be the difference between a long life or an early departure. Maintaining an alkaline bodily environment by eating cleaner and greener helps support ‘gut’ health, giving viruses nowhere to thrive. Given the fact that the biggest influence on our health is our environment, we would do well to take loving care of it.
We could become stewards of the planet by urging our global leaders to protect our forests and wetlands, (they soak up about a third of our carbon emissions annually), from the greedy developers who are destroying Mother Nature’s natural air-filtration system. No matter how you slice it, we need nature to survive and a governing body willing to invest in preserving it.
As individuals, we can all help by being more mindful of our own carbon footprint. We could start with something easy, like educating ourselves on the foods we eat. For instance, is it grown organically, or is it farmed using pesticides? Do you filter your own drinking water, or do you drink water from plastic bottles? Do you recycle? I am honestly surprised at the number of people who answer “no” to this question.
What businesses do you choose to support (or not to support)? Do you vote? Again, I am shocked by those who do not exercise their right to vote! All these things move the wheels of progress forward.
There is a lot we can do as individuals, but real change happens when we act together. And we all have a responsibility to the planet we helped to pollute. Everyone is quick to complain about their right to this and that, and I have no problem with people fighting for their rights. But it is all meaningless without clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. Without those two crucial components, there will be nothing left to fight for.