08 February 2009

Death Grip: The Lesson for Climate Change

My last couple of posts about The Drought probably sounded like whining. They were. To some extent, anyway. But beneath that there's a lesson.

So many people -- the world around -- are hoping... waiting... assuming... praying... that there'll be some sort of Return To Normal.

There won't be. Get over it!

I well know that we cannot ascribe directly the current weather conditions to GCC (Global Climate Change a.k.a. Global Warming) -- that's just not how this thing works. After all,"climate" itself is nothing more than a mathematical fiction. An average of weather conditions over some short spane of recent decades. But the climate models -- no matter how deficient they may or may not be -- do predict a greater number of more-extreme weather events than we've historically seen. Still, whilst it is scientifically incorrect to connect our current drought conditions (or any of the other extreme or unusual weather events happening in the world) to GCC, there is one consequence we can note... one realisation that comes out of this drought...

Climate change screws up our ability to predict. For the farmer, the gardener, the self-sufficient, it is impossible to over-emphasize the impact this unpredictability has. Forever... for as long as we've been cultivators... we've pretty-much been able to predict.

"If I plant Beans now, I should see enough rain to get them growing, and in about 4 moons from now, I should be harvesting the next year's Bean Stew suppers."

But now, something seems to have slipped. Take our (anecdotal) local case: We had the Humid Season back in December, instead of now (February) as is "normally" the case. Our Windy Season -- normally September and October -- is still on-going. The Once A Week Rain that characterised the region 15 years ago is clearly now a part of History. Our Spring was long, exceptionally cool, and characterised by almost 2 months of permanent overcast, resulting in very slow Spring growth from most plants. It's as though the "seasons" have slipped forward by about 6 weeks.

Maybe so. Maybe not. That's not the point.

The point is that the weather has become just that much less predictable.

Until last year, I would have planted Maize in the 1st or 2nd week of January1. This year the dry conditions stopped me. Perhaps fortuitously! Perhaps I should now plant Maize in mid-February... (If we get some rain.) But I don't know.

And next year? I won't know!

It's all gone Random. That's the real consequence of Climate Change.

[1] In most parts of SA, people would plant Maize much earlier in the Spring and/or spray the plants with some Toxic Cocktail. Around here, early-to-mid-Jan is the Right Time for "organic" growers to plant Maize whilst avoiding the worst depredations of Corn Ear Worm.

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