April is the Cruelest Month

But not, here in Minnesota, for the reasons Eliot had in mind. On the contrary: we are in the midst of a six to eight inch snowstorm. It is coming down heavier than that to the west and north. This is what my world looks like:

I drove home from work tonight. The guy who plows my driveway hadn’t been here, probably waiting for the snow to stop. The heavy snow was too deep and too slippery to get up the driveway, so I took a run at it to build up some speed. Still no good; I could only make it halfway. So I backed up again and, because my driveway curves and everything was indistinguishably white, I went a little off the edge of the pavement and my right rear tire got stuck in a three-foot snowbank.

Which led to a half hour of shoveling, extricating my car, backing up as far as I could without running into the snow pile in the street, which is still five or six feet high, taking running starts, shoveling some more, applying Ice Bite all over the driveway (twice), and finally managing to get the car into the garage. All with the help of my wife and teenage daughter, who did most of the shoveling.

So my daughter couldn’t resist pointing out this passage in her 10th-grade science book, which her class has just gotten to:

Polar bears are on the move. The area of arctic sea ice on which these carnivores hunt seals has declined 34 percent as worldwide temperatures rise. As this ice is lost, polar bears must swim as far as 100 kilometers to find their prey. Some of these polar bears cannot make it, and they drown. Now polar bears must compete with grizzly bears. If global warming is changing the shape of one of Earth’s coldest regions, how will it affect the rest of our planet?

It’s not affecting my part of the planet anywhere near enough, is what I say. After pointing out that everything in that paragraph is complete bunk, I explained to my daughter the difference between weather and climate. Weather is a transitory, localized phenomenon like what we are experiencing now: a mid-April snowstorm. Climate is when it’s like this all the damn time!

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