Is crazy weather trend or fluke?
To the editor:
Once, a fluke; twice, a trend. I’m beginning to think there is something to this climate change stuff. When our farm lost our entire tree fruit crop in 2010 due to an unusually warm spring (coupled with overnight frosts), we were reassured by historical data, which suggested that such crop-killing events happened infrequently. Now in 2012, as we again lost our entire tree fruit crop due to an unusually warm spring (coupled with overnight frosts), using historical data to make sense of the weather seems naïve. One year of crop loss can be dismissed as a fluke, but twice in three years begins to feel like a trend.
The loss of our apples, peaches, pears and plums is not the only clue that the weather just ain’t what it used to be. Hurricane Irene in August 2011 brought the worst flooding in Vermont in over 80 years. The October 2011 snowstorm brought unprecedented amounts of snow to many areas in the Northeast. And now, Sandy. Are such unprecedented weather events flukes … or new trends?
I’m pretty sure the scientists who have devoted their working lives to studying climate have answered that question. But, scientists are trained to be cautious about the way they characterize the results of their research. It is rarely prudent for a scientist to conclude that “A is a direct result of B,” and that makes it easy for people who don’t want climate change to be real to find room for doubt in climate scientists’ predictions.
And, how about those predictions — dire enough for you? I can understand the inclination to take refuge in doubt; after all, if those scientists are right, the future is unthinkable. I certainly hope they’re wrong. Don’t you? But, as I reflect on another year without tree fruit grown on our farm, I’m feeling pretty sure those scientists are on to something.
So, as we watch communities in Massachusetts and in our neighboring states attempt to put themselves back together from the latest unprecedented weather event, I’m thinking that, even if people are in doubt about the conclusions of those climate scientists, we need to find ways to act on their warnings. Because I’d rather invest in halting climate change and have it turn out that those scientists were wrong than do nothing and have it turn out that they were right. In the first scenario, my kids (and yours) will live in an unnecessarily cleaner environment and a country with unnecessary energy independence. In the second scenario — where weather events like Sandy are one of many in a new and unalterable trend — my kids (and yours) may find it difficult to live here at all.
Sally Fitz, co-owner
Small Ones Farm, Amherst