It was our sanctuary -- the safest, happiest place on earth. Later our children taught us to be green. We installed windmills and solar panels, recycled and composted, and became more mindful of our footprint. Still, we felt safe from the worst ravages of global warming in our bucolic corner of the "first" world here in New England. The real catastrophes were "out there" in sub-Saharan Africa, Bangladesh, the Andes or tiny Pacific islands. Then global warming crashed our party in paradise.
Then a bolt of lightning crashed through the kitchen window, mowed me down like a freight train hurtling through my chest and triggered a blast so loud I thought the sound barrier had been breached somewhere between the crockery and the curtains. When I opened my eyes, I was lying on the floor. Then came smoke. Fifteen minutes later we were out in the storm, watching in disbelief as our beloved home vanished in a towering wall of flame.
I am not a climate change scientist, but I have come to understand that I am a climate change victim. Our daughter took the lead investigating destructive lightning in Maine. She found that the NASA Goddard Institute estimates a 5-6% change in global lightning frequencies for every 1 degree Celsius global warming. The Earth has already warmed .8 degrees Celsius since 1802 and is expected to warm another 1.1-6.4 degrees by the end of the century.What's a "climate change scientist"? Oh nevermind, let's just get on with it -
Maine's temperatures rose 1.9 degrees Celsius in the last century and another 2.24 degree rise is projected by 2104. I learned from our insurance company that while the typical thunderstorm produces around 100 lightning strikes, there were 217 strikes around our house that night. I was shocked to discover that when it comes to increased lightning frequency and destructiveness, a NASA study concluded that eastern areas of North America like Maine are especially vulnerable. Scientists confirm a 10% increase in the incidence of extreme weather events in our region since 1949.Is there just the teeniest, weeniest hint of a possibility that the storm wasn't a "typical thunderstorm"? "[T]here were 217 strikes around our house that night" - how does she (yes, it's a she) know? Did she count every one? Before the strike, and Including the period between the strike and opening her eyes? Was hubby counting? Were they both counting while their "beloved home vanished in a towering wall of flame"? Did the insurance company count 'em? Stick with me, not long to go, here's an NCDC temperature chart for Maine
|Maine 1895-2011 Annual temperature|
Was the lightning bolt in our kitchen caused by global warming? The facts are too compelling to ignore. It seems that global warming turned my family into refugees in our own lives, stripped of everything that once carried our memories and meaning. Since then I've learned some lessons that may help others reckon with the realities of climate change and the terrifying prospect that our future will be different from our past."The facts are too compelling to ignore" - what facts? "Since then I've learned some lessons..." - what lessons? She doesn't mention anything which might "help others reckon with the realities of climate change". Keeping it to herself, planning to make a fast buck out of other peoples fears, by the look of things.
I thought I could keep my children safe in this peaceful place. Now I know that no one of us can keep our children safe. There is no shelter from the storm of global warming. All we can do is learn how to pivot and impart that soulful skill to those we love. Breed it in their bones that they may become agents of adaptive change in these new times. We are all just earth travelers now: many addresses but only one home.Aaaaah - sweet. "This peaceful place" where never-before-heard-of 217-strike storms incontrovertibly spawned by a 1.9 degrees Celsius in the last century warming, suddenly (did all the 1.9 degree warming occur in 2011?) burst out of nowhere (from the sky - Ed.) and destroy an idyllic farmstead. A farmstead with "windmills and solar panels" which are made of - plastic? Glass? Wood? Hershey bars? Obama campaign leaflets? No, metal, metal with wires attached. Wires leading into the idyllic farmstead through the walls and roof. Wires which conduct electricity. Lightning is electricity, big-time. They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but "they" didn't have a wooden farmhouse surrounded by tall metal windmills and with a roof covered in solar panels in mind. Even Ben Franklin knew enough not to surround his house with lightning conductors that were attached to it by wires.