It’s really strange how every year, the first fall of snow catches me off guard, as if I haven’t lived in this country for close to sixty years. You’d think I’d be ready for it, I mean, this isn’t my first
rodeo winter carnival, right? Just last year, for example, it snowed, and the year before too. This is predictable.
I’m materially equipped for winter, though, I have the best technology! I bought one of those lights that’s supposed to bathe you in substitute sunlight, and stave off the Winter blues, and I have my videos of Mahone Bay Summer sunsets, not to mention central heating. Well, I guess central heating is nothing to brag about, probably you have central heating too. It’s pretty great, though, right? When I grew up most houses still had those crappy hot water radiators, which is just one more piece of evidence that things keep getting better and better, and always will.
Well, probably always will, barring the unlikely but by no means zero probability sort of event that causes mass extinctions, like an asteroid impact, or the Yellowstone super volcano really blowing its top. I think I mentioned in another post that I check up on the Yellowstone supervolcano periodically – I just did again, just now. Threat level: Normal. Yay!
Every year, the first snowfall reminds me of another calamitous threat that’s not all that unlikely at all, in fact it has to be reckoned to be just about 100% probable over the long(ish) haul – the resumption of the current Ice Age. I know, you’re thinking that the Ice Age ended, but it didn’t, really, it just went into a kind of Ice Age remission called an “interglacial”. Other things being equal, the interglacial that we’ve been enjoying for the last several millennia should be ending before too long, geologically speaking, based on what we know about these things, though the science is inexact, and nobody can really say when. It could be many thousands of years, yet. It has to do, we think, with variations in the Earth’s orbit, combined with a back-and-forth wobble in the Earth’s axis, and the way the Earth also changes its orientation as it leans on its wobbling axis, like a spinning top will. These cyclical perturbations seem to affect how much sunlight hits the planet annually at the angles best suited to warm the place up. These periodical variations in “insolation” are called Milankovich cycles, if you want to delve into this more on your own, which Im guessing you probably do.
And hey, other things aren’t equal, because of human-induced global warming. It’s hard to figure just how much climate change will affect the span of the current interglacial. Maybe the silver lining to sea level rise, massive wildfires, huge hurricanes and the like is that we don’t get covered in an ice sheet two miles thick, like the one that rested upon the land right where I’m sitting right now, about 15,000 years ago. So there’s that.
Anyway, this is what I think about each year, when it first snows. After I recover from the shock, I mean.
Geez, it’s cold, dark and all covered in white stuff out there.