As expected we had our first morning of frost in Northcentral Wisconsin this morning. The preliminary low temperature report from the airport in Wausau indicates a low of 39. The record low in Wausau today is 35 (set in 1915) so we were not too far away from the record. Here are some other low temps from the area:
- Land O Lakes: 29
- Merrill: 30
- Stevens Point: 37
- Wisconsin Rapids: 39
- Antigo: 34
- Tomahawk: 30
I hope everyone was prepared and cover their sensitive plants. I know that many gardeners still have unripe vegetables out there. Thankfully there is not much threat of frost for the next 7 to 10 days. The main threat will come tonight into Tuesday morning when there could be some patchy frost in the countryside, however, temps should not be as cold as this morning. Other than the small threat of Frost tonight, the weather looks gorgeous for this week and even into the holiday weekend. High temps should be in the 70s each day from Tuesday through next Monday. Other than an isolated shower possible in the northwoods on Friday, the weather looks dry with plenty of sunshine until Monday (Labor Day) when I am forecasting a 30% chance of showers or thunderstorms.
I noticed some interesting items in environmental news recently. Reports that highlight competing values across the globe. Here is a depressing article about consumerism and how it is ruining the planet. It might sound depressing but just remember, the “cancerous spread of the human race”, the exhaustion of resources, and finally the end of human civilization, has been predicted innumerable times (even before Malthus and even after Ehrlich’s failures). So before you get depressed, remember the reason why human society has not yet collapsed – intelligence. Ok, I know some people have a pretty low opinion of humans in general, but we are the most intelligent species on the planet by most measures. Laughing in the face of Malthus and Ehrlich we conquered the restraints placed on us by nature through ingenuity and innovation. Before we believe Warren Hern and William Rees and submit to government control of every aspect of our lives in order to save the planet, I think they should explain why this time their prediction of the end of civilization is correct, when the success rate of such predictions is zero. Is innovation going to stop? Are agricultural and energy solutions that serve the human population going to disappear? Are we tapped out on all the recycling ideas that could help clean up the environment? I haven’t seen any indication of this.
One of the more interesting quotes from the article is from someone who performed a spot-on analysis back in 1955 – economist Victor Lebow:
“Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction and our ego satisfaction in consumption. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever-increasing rate”.
I have to admit that I see this quite a bit in today’s society. I can’t believe how many women I know who own 100 pairs of shoes (or more!). I am surprised how many people just “have to buy” the latest fashion, car, or gadget. I would like to think I am not a habitual consumer, and I don’t buy as much as most people (just ask my wife how frugal I am), but there are some hobbies that I do spend on from time-to-time such as fishing and camping (even then I go for value over fashion). One giant example of consumerism is the giving of gifts, whether it be at birthdays, Christmas, or other special occasions. This is a long held tradition, but it has really gotten amped up in America over the last few decades. For me, I certainly appreciate the gifts, but in reality I don’t need all of them. I could even go without the cards. What matters to me is getting together with family and friends. The greatest gift is just hanging out, drinking a couple beers, playing cards, and having a meal. I would take a hand-written card any day over a store bought card. Toning down the gift-giving a little could go a long way toward relieving stress on the environment.
But I am not one to force anyone else to act in certain ways when it comes to consumption. Everyone should have the opportunity to indulge once in a while. Everyone should have the chance to be rich and comfortable. I have dreams of owning a larger house and a nice chunk of land someday and I don’t want some government bureaucrat standing in my way. Which brings us to a couple other articles. The first is about invitro fertilization. A simplified IVF technique could help millions of childless couples in Africa and around the world. It would be hard to argue against giving infertile couples the chance to experience the joy of becoming a parent and raising a child, but the environmental perspective is a bit different. If human civilization is destroying the planet and we are facing sure disaster, then IVF should not be promoted. In fact, it should be banned. The last thing we need is more humans, right?
What about other countries that are experiencing growth and want to achieve the standard of living that is common in Europe, Japan, and most of North America? To do this, they need resources. Here is an article decrying the building of roads in the worlds rainforests. One of the people quoted in the article suggests that the new highways should be bombed because of all the destruction they cause (watch out, ELF or ALF might get some ideas). Major highways are being built in the Amazon and Sumatra and economic activity usually follows, which means more industry, housing, people, and roads. Who is financing all this destruction? Mainly China and other expanding economies of the world. Asia Pulp & Paper and Rimbunan Hijua are key players. On the one hand, I can see the environmental aspect of this. These are pristine areas of the world, shouldn’t they be more careful? Shouldn’t they move a little slower and make sure they don’t destroy or disrupt important ecosystems. On the other hand, who are we to tell the Chinese they cannot mine and log and raise their standard of living. After, here in the U.S. and particularly in Wisconsin, deforestation was absolutely rampant about 100 to 150 years ago. The entire state of Wisconsin was completely logged off in order to fuel the growth of the U.S economy and the higher standard of living. Even the Apostle Islands were completely treeless at one point! Not only did we cut down almost every tree in the U.S. we built roads – millions of miles of roads – enormous superhighways that seem to reach every corner of the continent. Of course, that is not the end of the story. The trees grew back and Wisconsin now has more trees and forestland than at most points in recent geologic history. It seems societies reach a certain point to where the environment takes a high place in the desires of its people. Once material needs are taken care of, the focus shifts to crafting a pleasant outside environment, and thus more protection for wild/natural areas. When will China reach that point? Hopefully soon. Until then, there is not much to be done. China (and India to some extent) have given new climate treaties the middle finger. I wonder how long it will take before world opinion starts turning against China? Right now all the focus still seems to be on how evil the U.S. is, even though China is the main player in cutting down the tropical rain forests and building new mines. China is the world largest emitter of CO2 as well. India is not far behind when it comes to pollution. While I would never deny someone the opportunity to raise their standard of living, it would be nice to cooperate on a better strategy for attaining that goal.
Have a good Monday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
Posted under Environment, Freeze, Pollution
This post was written by jloew on August 31, 2009