Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sixty Degrees Difference from Snorkel to Skis

I went cross country skiing today. The sun was shining and it was in the mid-20’s. One week ago, I went snorkeling in the Virgin Islands. The sun was shining and it was in the mid-80’s. The snorkeling and the weather in St. Croix was more enjoyable than the skiing, but even though I found it difficult to get enthused about going out today to shovel snow and get my old cross country skis out of the garage, I enjoyed the physical activity.

As I swished around the Shawnee Park golf course in Dunbar, WV, I worked up a sweat and found myself smiling and enjoying the exertion, the beauty of the almost unbroken expanse of snow, white and blue before me. 

But snorkeling over the coral reef off Buck Island, hovering above schools of brightly colored fish and interesting coral formations in the warm, clear tropical waters was clearly the more beautiful and interesting activity. Of course, without the effective waterproof sunblock I had smeared over my body before getting on the sailboat for the forty-five minute sail from St. Croix to Buck Island, I would likely have sustained a serious sunburn. But with the ocean breezes, I rarely felt hot during the week I spent there.

View of Buck Island from Point Udall, St. Croix, VI

Warming oceans and increased carbon dioxide in the water is killing coral reefs. And today, a few miles from Charleston, where I live, a train derailed and several tanker cars filled with crude oil from the Bakken shale exploded and continue to burn twenty-four hours later as I write. Some of the oil has fouled the water of the Kanawha River. 

February has been very cold and snowy over much of the country, and because of this, no doubt the climate deniers are saying this proves that the planet is not warming. Actually, extreme weather of all kinds, including colder weather in some places is expected as the arctic winds escape the forces that used to hold them in place around the poles.

I’m becoming increasingly disillusioned about the ability of those of us on the planet who would like to preserve the beautiful places and creatures and plants in the world by reducing and finally eliminating the burning of fossil fuels, and though I know I contribute to the problem by stepping on an airplane to go see some of those places, I’m glad that I have the time and resources to be able to once in awhile.