Sun Above the Prairie Horizon

A storm blew down from the north last night
and the land received a little less than an inch of rain.
This morning,
glorious cool temperatures pervade.
Already this summer,
though it’s still early,
we are grateful for every raindrop
and every moment of cool breeze.
With a warmer-than-normal May,
we are concerned about heat this summer.
And still, we’re concerned about drought:
pastures that were lushly green two weeks ago
are already turning brown,
an indication that last summer’s drought
went deep
and this spring’s rains
haven’t gone deep enough
to reverse it.

So it was especially good news
that arrived in the electric bills this morning.
They reflect the second
of the first two full months
since solar panels were installed
on the pond house and farm house.
At the pond house,
the solar panels have produced
1.64 megawatt hours of electricity.
That’s enough to supply energy
to  54 houses for one day
and to offset 1.13 tons carbon,
or the equivalent of 29 trees.
At the pond house,
the solar panels have provided 408 kilowatt hours
of electricity in the last month.
Here at the farm house,
my electric bill reports
that I used an average of 0 kilowatt hours each day
as compared to 6 kilowatt hours each day
in the same period last year.

Bottom line:
we are not burning as much fossil fuel
and not releasing as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere
so that there isn’t as much global warming
or climate change
as there would be
if we weren’t.
It’s not enough difference
to solve the problem,
but part of the effort we can make
to contribute to the efforts
so many are making.
We have to.
Here’s a link to a piece by NASA climate scientist
James Hansen,
printed recently in The New York Times.

The global warming signal is now louder than the noise of random weather, as I predicted would happen by now in the journal Science in 1981. Extremely hot summers have increased noticeably. We can say with high confidence that the recent heat waves in Texas and Russia, and the one in Europe in 2003, which killed tens of thousands, were not natural events — they were caused by human-induced climate change.

We have known since the 1800s that carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere. The right amount keeps the climate conducive to human life. But add too much, as we are doing now, and temperatures will inevitably rise too high. This is not the result of natural variability, as some argue. The earth is currently in the part of its long-term orbit cycle where temperatures would normally be cooling. But they are rising — and it’s because we are forcing them higher with fossil fuel emissions.