Cold weather conundrum
From GENE LOGSDON
I say that a love of nature is at the root of my love for farming, but in fact I hate cold weather, an integral part of nature in the north. How can I explain the contradiction? I’ll give you my line of reasoning as long as you don’t hold me to it too strictly. I argue that cold weather is the biggest threat to human existence on earth. That’s why I hate it. We seldom think about it but humans, unlike other animals, can only survive in northern climates with some kind of artificial heat, which means burning up the earth’s supply of stored sunlight as fuel. We are not polar bears. We live through northern winters by plundering the rest of nature.
What made me think of this again is that, much to my surprise, fur prices are on the rise. Muskrat pelts are selling for $8 and up at auctions, coyotes at $60 and up, red foxes from $25 to $50, and raccoons from $13 to $19 each. China and other “newly rich” countries are driving up the prices because the people there not only think fur coats are fashionable but because animal fur is a very good insulation against cold weather. Muskrat belly fur for example, makes an excellent lining for cold weather boots because it is nearly impermeable to moisture.
Obviously, as humans migrated from their natural environment of warm weather, they not only had to discover fire but gird themselves in animal skins until they figured out how to make insulated underwear out of polyester. Before that there must have been eons of migration from warmer climes to colder and back again as winter approached, a practice still honored by migrating birds and quite a few corn-beans-and Florida farmers. With furs and fire, humans slowly learned how to stay in the north through winter. This led to the whole silly culture of clothes and heaven only knows how much that has cost the earth. Even with clothes, humans had to have shelter to survive bitter cold. They used caves or built structures out of wood or stone or ice, leading to the ultra-extravagant housing industry of today. All of this, in the beginning, just to stay warm.
As fuel supplies seem to diminish now and dreams of grandeur soar, this kind of un-sustainability continues. We cover entire sports arenas from the weather; we set up acres of solar panels to produce electricity. More and more, greenhouse tunnels and hoop houses become part of agriculture. Can we roof over the entire northern hemisphere just to keep from living in more tropical areas like nature intended us to do?
I try to figure out where the geographical line between a natural human environment and an unnatural one should be drawn. Strangely it seems to run along the boundary between the north and south of Civil War times. Hmmm. Any connection? Is the inherent antipathy between North and South an environmental one? Hmmm. Will the South finally win that war after all?
I’m just thinking sort of randomly of course. But obviously, as heating fuels run out, I am not thinking idly. If you follow the news lately, Eastern Europe is experiencing extremely cold weather and people are freezing to death by the hundreds. The cold weather has cut off access to artificial heat for some and forced the rest to face the realization that death is just a click of the artificial heat switch away. It is time for my commercial. People in cold regions should be teaching their children to teach their children to teach their children how to grow trees around them to use sustainably for fuel. Or face the awesome improbability that the ancient human migration into cold climates will have to reverse itself. To save the earth and themselves, humans might have to live where they belong: in warmer climates.
Maybe global warming will save us.