And then I wrote...

by Dick Schilling, Editor Emeritus

... that I read with great interest the op-ed piece by George Will concerning climate change, since it came at the end of another protracted cold spell here in northeast Iowa. Will cites historic evidence of radical changes in climate in the 1300s and 1600s, long before modern man’s influence could have been blamed.
It sort of confirmed my thought that we should not call anyone a weather forecaster or weather predictor, but rather they, and we, are simply weather observers.
With that in mind, there were some things to observe during that stretch of very cold weather.
For example, a couple mornings we could observe the perihelion. The common term is sun dogs, so called because the effect “dogs” or follows the sun. On a Friday morning in particular, the show was so vivid that it almost made the complete halo around the sun, more than the more familiar rainbow-like arc on each side.
Next morning, I looked to see if the effect had been repeated, and was disappointed that it had not. I don’t know why. Conditions seemed the same. But I did observe a very pretty and unique pre-sunrise display of cloud layers almost purple in color, which to my eyes was rare. And it appeared as though jet aircraft had made it a point to substitute for the perihelion effect by flying so their contrails centered and crossed at the rising sun. Later it occurred to me that perhaps the atmospheric conditions which highlighted the cons at that level were the same ones that affected the ice crystals which reflect the sun and cause the sun dogs, but at a different altitude.
That week also brought us a splendidly large full moon. The moon and the stars, or possibly planets, in that same quadrant of the sky visible from my living room window at night were shown clear and bright. A high powered telescope must have presented an amazing view.
In fact, the moon was so bright that one of the daily papers showed a photo of “moon dogs” around it, something I had no idea existed.
When it is as cold as it was this January and last January, it is a major topic of conversation.
I also talk about sporting events. One recent Saturday, there was “nothing on” television of a sporting nature that interested me, so a book and magazine got my attention. Next day, Sunday, the only professional football team I care about at all, the Packers, had a televised game. So did the Iowa women, on TV at the same time. Meanwhile, the Iowa wrestlers were on radio at the same time, and Iowan Zack Johnson was playing in a golf tournament in Hawaii.
I swear I heard an Iowa wrestler make a three-point shot from the end zone!
If everybody talks about the weather but nobody can do anything about it, that isn’t true of athletic events.
Humans can change that!

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