Winter: What is it good for?

Tomorrow is the last day of winter, a measure now more astronomical than seasonal. What did we miss this year?

Snow, and the recharging of our water supplies with the spring thaw.

Gateway NRA spent the last couple of months sending out warnings about the fire hazard created by zero snow cover, strong coastal winds, and low humidity.

The winnowing of the insect kingdom: there should be plenty of bugs this year. I look forward to many of them, but some of them are annoying, while others are economically costly pests. Some may be vectors of disease.

Seeds: many native species require a hard freeze to germinate come the spring. This is the way they evolved.

Regional fruit farmers saw early budding, some as early as February. The danger of a killing frost, theoretically possible until the middle of April, may have been avoided, this time.It was a pointless existence for this anti-idiot warning this winter.

This unusually warm winter, with only a scattering of snow and few days of real cold, has been greeted by a lot of people with relish. They bemoan last year’s snowfall as if they had actually suffered through it (I don’t speak of the poor, the homeless, and the elderly or movement impaired, who have cause) and feel relieved by this year’s mildness. Next year may well be wintery (Central Europe was KOed by a murderous winter this year), but the trend is unmistakable: a warmer planet is leading to radical climate change, disrupting the weather as we know it; natural systems (from species to habitats) are being disrupted much faster than they are used to; the human costs are increasing. And the nation sleeps, like some bloated creature hibernating in its own ignorance.

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2 Responses to “Winter: What is it good for?”


  1. 1 Out Walking the Dog March 18, 2012 at 9:44 am

    An excellent post Matthew. I think many people – and I’m talking educated people here – don’t know what winter DOES for us. They understand and are horrified by climate change, but see its effects confined to the melting of the great glaciers and subsequent rising of the seas. They simply don’t know the problems (they sound like like Biblical plagues: drought, fire, insects, etc) caused by a paucity of snow or lack of a hard freeze. They don’t know because it isn’t taught in schools, and it isn’t in the public discussion.

    Your post makes me realize we should all be writing more on such topics, and helping people to see the chain of cause-and-effect that connects natural events.


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