Archive for February 8th, 2009

After winter days that have seen the temperature dip to -30 C and lower, it is a pleasure to enjoy a few days with the temperature hovering around 0 degrees.  How quickly the earth begins to let go of the frost.  Paths that were dug through a foot of snow are already turning muddy and puddled.


To the north of the house, the south branch of the South Nation River has been covered under a foot of snow and ice.  This morning, a narrow ribbon of open water is flooding into pools.


For the first time in many weeks, I took the horses’ blankets off so that they may enjoy the warmth of the sun and have a roll in the snow if they wish.

A mild day in February feels like Nature whispering in your ear “Don’t lose hope! Spring will come.”

While we are enjoying a much-appreciated warm spell, the heat is far from pleasant in some parts of the world. When I caught the news on the radio this morning, they were talking about a heatwave and wildfires in Australia. The southeastern Australian states have been gripped in a heatwave for the past two weeks. In the state of Victoria, temperatures reached a state record of 47 degrees Celsius. Blair Trewin, a climatologist with the National Climate Centre in Melbourne, was quoted as saying “They are the most extreme conditions that we have ever seen in historic record in parts of southeastern Australia. We are seeing an upward trend in temperatures in Australia, as elsewhere in the world.” 

I was reminded of Jared Diamond’s interesting book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, in which he examines societies as disparate as the Viking colonies of Greenland and the small communities of present-day Montana and considers how environmental degradation relates to societal decline. Diamond observes that events in Australia, water-poor and bereft of the rich soils of other continents, will foreshadow what awaits other countries on a warming planet.

My favorite quotation from Diamond’s book is about Easter Island, where inhabitants stripped their homeland of its forests, with devastating results. Diamond asks “What did the Easter Islander who cut down the last palm tree say while he was doing it? Like modern loggers, did he shout “Jobs, not trees!”? Or: “We don’t have proof that there aren’t palms somewhere else on Easter, we need more research, your proposed ban on logging is premature and driven by fear-mongering!”?”

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