My wife and I recently enjoyed a rare, and spectacular meteor shower from our small country home in Central Texas. With the near-full moon rising in the east, the shooting stars running north to south, the temperature hovering around 50, and the coyotes hooting in the distance, it was a perfect night for watching one of nature’s most enjoyable fireworks displays. Its hard to watch such a show and not be humbled by nature.
Speaking of nature….
Monday was different. It was freezing, literally — 32 degrees and dropping. Damn cold. The dramatic and sudden change in weather was somewhat surprising, but not too terribly uncommon. You know the saying, “If you don’t like Texas weather, wait a minute…” But this weather was different — there was a bite to the cold that IS uncommon Weird for Texas, and everywhere I went on Monday, people would comment, “Weird weather, huh?” I would simply reply with the obvious, “Yes, it is a bit weird.”
Later that afternoon, I jumped on a plane and headed to Baltimore for a business trip. As I exited the Baltimore airport to catch my ride to Delaware, I was struck by how warm the temperature was. Baltimore is supposed to be cold in December (and Texas warm), but here it was 70 degrees and humid. As I got into my town car for the one hour ride north I commented to my driver, who is a professional golfer and friend, that it was strangely warm for Baltimore.
“Yea,” he replied. “The weather has been very weird lately. Just last week we went from 20 degrees on one day to 70 degrees the next. Everybody went from parkas to golfing in 24 hours. Weird.”
After a terribly uncomfortable night in my Wilmington hotel (they turn all the AC units off in the hotels during winter, because, you see, it is supposed to be COLD in Delaware in winter), I awake to a rainy, humid day. My client picked me up at the hotel and the first thing he said to me as I jumped into his car for the ride to the office… “Weird weather man. Did you bring an umbrella?” I laughed and told him that “Weird weather” was the mantra of the week, and shared my story with him.
Later that day, as I was facilitating a meeting with a group of government employees, I noticed that their attention was no longer on me. Everybody was looking past me, out the windows. I stopped talking and slowly looked outside, and to my surprise noticed that it was snowing! Huge, beautiful white snowflakes fluttering to the ground! And just yesterday I was uncomfortable because of humidity and heat. This morning it wasn’t even cold…now it is snowing?
What is going on here!?
In his recently released book, Hot, Flat & Crowded, Thomas Freidman characterizes my two-day experience as “Global Weirding,” and attributes these seemingly wild fluctuations to global warming and the attendant changes this warming has had on climate. His argument is compelling, and is confirmed by daily experience. Not just my experience…yours. Ask yourself how many times you or somebody around you has recently commented that the weather was acting strange? Even though we struggle with the explanation, we all intuitively know that something just isn’t right with the weather…its seems to be acting, well, weird.
And this is a fact. Or, perhaps an inconvenient truth… The weather is changing. Or more accurately — global climate is changing, which is affecting the weather in weird ways. As Freidman notes in his book, “That the climate changes over time is settled science. That the climate is now changing in ways unusual against the backdrop of long-term natural variation is accepted by nearly everybody.” Something is different. Whether you choose to believe that humans are the causative agent of climate change, or that this is a natural variation in global temperatures, the fact is that the world is warming up, and Carbon Dioxide levels are rising, which results in a destructive C02-Climate feedback loop.
The combination of the two is weird weather. And it is predicted to become much, much worse over time.