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Saturday December 14th 2019

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“Thoughts From Powderhorn Lake”

by Peter Molenaar

At every mid-month, contributors to The Alley are pressed into duty (or are otherwise moved by a profound love). Consequently, this writer missed ice-out day at Powderhorn—so be it. Now, at mid-April, a nice start towards a summer tan has been achieved thanks to the early spring warm-up.

Folks who descend each year to feed ducks and geese are greeted as well by the raucous demands of visiting gulls—intelligent birds who speak directly. Having satisfied them, a small group formed next to me upon the concrete ledge which holds the shore line. I was awe-struck. Gulls are utterly handsome and exquisitely evolved birds. Sensing my new-found admiration, in unison they turned to display the V formed by their black trim tail feathers. I had been invited to join the flock.
Question: Does an early spring coupled with a cold winter mean that the global warming disbelievers club can have its cake and eat it too?

It was supposed to have been a warm El Nino winter. Right? What happened to the associated upper air current which normally then restricts the Arctic air mass to the north of us? Contrary to expectations, we endured the usual infusions of cold air which press south across mid-continent all the way to Texas. Hey, it felt like global cooling to me.

Actually, no one wants to believe in global warming. However, the El Nino effect, associated with the upwelling of warm Pacific water at the equator, has been over-ruled by a new phenomenon induced by global warming (sorry). Specifically, the body of North Pacific water found west of Alaska has begun to heat up. The resulting updraft of warm air will now constrict the annual accumulation of winter Arctic air such that it must spread out to the south across land. Hence, El Nino will be over-powered.

The kicker is this: Given the fact of global warming, our Arctic air when pressed to southern latitudes will heat more rapidly thus hastening the arrival of spring—not all immediately bad for the inhabitants of the North American continent it would seem. But don’t sing “God Bless America” too loudly, please.

We shall assume that our “disbelievers” are familiar with the projected consequences, including the economic and ecological interconnections for which there is no immunity. They simply reject the underlying premise (sorry, once again).

Will we begin a sustained attack on global warming or remain in a fossil fuel/carbon based economy (forever!)? I suggest, dear people, that the solution will require a significant fiscal expansion (not contraction and market forces) coupled with radically redefined priorities.
Meanwhile, the CEO of UnitedHealth, the Minnetonka based health insurer, received a $102 million “compensation” in 2009. Sure am glad we had people rioting in the streets on behalf of Stephen Hemsley’s freedom. Which is to say, I might yet decide to join that flock of gulls.

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