Spring has come and gone here in Oregon. We had approximately 2.5 days of it, and now the weather has switched back to its stubbornly wintry ways. I’ve been reading all these stories about global warming lately. But believing the dire predictions has been an exercise in not trusting my own eyes. Because if had to judge by what the weather has been doing here in Oregon this spring, I’d have to swear we’re going into another Ice Age.

That’s why they’ve taken to calling it “Global Climate Change.” “Global warming” is not necessarily descriptive of what climate change means to all areas of the globe. Some places will turn into saunas. But weather patterns and gulf streams and such will undoubtedly be affected to the point that some of us will actually get cooler weather. And my fantasies of owning a house on the ocean may come true without my even having to move. I won’t have to go to the beach. The beach will come to me.

Of course, I’ve been aware of the concept of global warming for a couple of decades, but I haven’t been able to make up my mind about it. It all seemed so vague, so theoretical, so…slow. I understood that we humans have been thoughtlessly fouling our nest for the last hundred years; but the process of the incremental increases in global temperatures still might have been explained away by the theory that we were in the process of emerging from the last Ice Age. A much simpler and much less frightening explanation. It’s amazing how easy it is to rationalize something that scares the shit out of you. Especially something that you feel is completely out of your personal control.

So when I came across articles about bird migrations taking place weeks earlier than they did fifty years ago, or glaciers shrinking by a couple inches more a year than they used to, I filed them away in the folder in the back of my brain labeled “Things That I Probably Should Be Worried About But I Don’t Want To Deal With Right Now.” And then came the hurricanes. And the fires. And the floods. And the huge cyclone that ate a chunk out of Australia. All in the space of the past twelve months. And as I put on my winter coat to take out the garbage, and look at the snow covering the low foothills in the east, the like of which I haven’t seen in the twenty years we’ve lived in Oregon…I get it. All of a sudden, it’s real. And it’s very possible that it’s all going to go to hell a lot faster than we ever imagined. Here’s the clincher, from Jeffrey Kluger’s article on climate change in Time Magazine:

What few people reckoned on was that global climate systems are booby-trapped with tipping points and feedback loops, thresholds past which the slow creep of environmental decay gives way to sudden and self-perpetuating collapse. Pump enough CO2 into the sky, and that last part per million of greenhouse gas behaves like the 212th degree Fahrenheit that turns a pot of hot water into a plume of billowing steam.

Hyperbole? Maybe. Scare tactics? Perhaps… But it sounds, and looks, all too plausible.