Letter from Publisher
Peggy Malecki & Jim Irwin
Reflections in the water like shadows in my mind
Speak to me of passing days and nights and passing time
The falling leaves are whispering, winter’s on its way
I close my eyes remembering the warmth of yesterday.
~ Richard Kniss; Michael Taylor; John Denver
We’ve been unusually blessed this season with an abundance of above-average warmth. Tomatoes and peppers were still ripening in mid October, for goodness sake! As someone who really, really doesn’t like the bone-chilling cold wind and dry air of the winter, I’ve been externally thankful for the extension of no-sock season.
Internally, though, I’ve been a bit conflicted with my comfort, as the warmer weather we’re enjoying is at least in part a direct result of climate change, which is altering jet stream and precipitation patterns and imposing a new norm. NASA reported in July that in the first six months of 2016, two key climate change indicators—global surface temperatures and depletion of Arctic Sea ice coverage—had broken numerous records.
Globally, according to NOAA, September’s temperatures were the second highest on record, following 16 straight months of 138-year record-smashing global highs. Closer to home, record warmth continued in the Great Lakes region through September, and I’d guess into October.
Climate change brings warmer ocean surface water temperatures which, scientists believe, have led to a very active tropical storm season comprised of both hurricanes affecting the East Coast and typhoons affecting the West Coast. Although the U.S. didn’t take a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew or Typhoon Sarika, the resulting wind and rain caused billions of dollars in property and environmental damage, lost wages, several deaths and personal misery for millions of people.
In North Carolina, where floodwaters are taking weeks to recede, the environmental damage left by leaked waste (and millions of dead animals) from subsumed hog and chicken farms and coal ash residue from power plants is staggering. What will it take to clean up the toxic mess, and where will it all go?
Our hearts go out to the residents of Haiti and eastern Cuba that took the full brunt of the storm. Already challenged with poverty and bad infrastructure, many were left with nothing after the storm passed, and no reliable place to turn for food, shelter and medical supplies. Cleanup is a challenge, and leading a comfortable life won’t be possible for a long time for our global brothers and sisters. As we turn our thoughts to Thanksgiving gratitude, we can give thanks for our blessings of comfort—food, drinkable water, heat, clean clothes, toothpaste, a warm bed—and the other parts of daily life we take for granted.
We can also make a difference this season by donating to one of the many organizations that are arranging aid for the Caribbean nations, as well as for our own U.S. citizens in need after this year’s storms. Additional info can be found at Weather.com/news/news/hurricane-matthew-how-help and other websites. As always, please investigate the charity you choose to support before giving. Help is needed now, and even more so months from now, when most people will have forgotten the disaster and moved on. That is, all except for the people whose lives have been changed forever.
So please, enjoy the autumn, and be thankful as you relish the extra warmth, savor the remaining fall leaves, party by a fall bonfire or sip hot apple cider with your kids. And do what you can to help others who aren’t as fortunate. Thank you.
Peggy and Jim