Brrrr. How many of you, dear readers, had polar vortex as part of your vocabulary before the cold snap in late December? Im not afraid to admit I had never heard of the phenomenon. While its been around -- probably forever -- we just started noticing it in 1853. Polar vortexes, also known as polar cyclones, occur in the upper troposphere and the stratosphere. Normally they stay up north where they belong and rarely stray. But as I write this, its 23 degrees outside. Friday morning it was 18 degrees. We are about 12 degrees colder than normal. Whats up with that?
I dont want to get into a debate about global warming or climate change. I go along with the scientists who say its real, but I kind of side with the naysayers when they ask What can we do about it?
If you think climate change is the invention of a bunch of tree huggers, of which I am one, think again. Somethings going on. While we sit with our outside faucets dripping to keep them from freezing, there are folks down under in Australia having the opposite issue. Ive been watching the Australian Open tennis tournament, and last week players and ball boys were fainting, cramping up and vomiting as their water bottles melted and their very expensive tennis shoes were sticking to the court. In January, the average temperature in Melbourne is supposed to range between 58 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Not so last week as the thermometer hit 109. Some say it felt like 120 degrees.
There is more evidence that something is going on with our little planet. While Georgia just came out of an extended drought, California is living up to its name as the Sunshine State -- oops, sorry, thats Florida. California is the Golden State, and its a bit too golden right now. California is in the clutches of its worst drought in history. Gov. Jerry Moonbeam Brown said, Its not likely to rain for several weeks. Brown is considering rationing water.
I didnt get the full brunt of a drought 3,000 miles away until I read a piece at infowars.com. In Michael Snyders article, he explained how important California is to the rest of the country.
The state produces 99 percent of the artichokes grown in the U.S., 44 percent of asparagus, a fifth of cabbage, two-thirds of carrots, half of bell peppers, 89 percent of cauliflower, 94 percent of broccoli, and 95 percent of celery. Leafy greens? Californias got the market cornered: 90 percent of the leaf lettuce we consume, along with and 83 percent of romaine lettuce and 83 percent of fresh spinach, come from the big state on the left side of the map. Cali also cranks a third of total fresh tomatoes consumed in the U.S. -- and 95 percent of ones destined for cans and other processing purposes.
Heres something that should surprise us being from the Peach State and all. California produces 84 percent of peaches, 88 percent of fresh strawberries and 97 percent of fresh plums? Actually, Georgia is the third-largest peach-producing state behind California and South Carolina. There is some solace: Our peaches taste better, in my humble opinion.
Oh, and did you hear this may be an El Niño year?
Have we dumped too much stuff in our atmosphere? Certainly. That and all the natural stuff that occurs is starting to pay us back. Ive seen up close and personal the impact of air pollution, and Im not talking about Los Angeles. Check out the air quality (an oxymoron) in Beijing or Shanghai. There are days when you cant see the super tall building standing just feet from you. The results of a few decades of unbridled pollution in the name of growth are choking the Chinese.
Whatever it is that we are doing to harm our atmosphere, we should just stop it. Chances of that happening? None. We might want to buy a few shares in 3M. They make respirators. And at the rate were going, we going to need them.
Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraphs editorial page editor. He can be reached at 478-744-4342 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweetcface fontname="Regular" naxe="0" iaxis="0"/>