Tag Archive 'folklore'

Dec 07 2011

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A Mild Winter?

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During the balmy days of autumn, I stumbled upon a dozen or so woolly worms in various places, and studied them for some sign of the coming winter. The wider the brownish-red band, the milder the season or so the saying goes.

Well, it looks like it’s going to be a mild one this year.

I’m not a big one for folklore, and don’t really believe that tiger moth caterpillars can predict an entire season any better than our weather forecasters can. Yet I wonder what lies ahead. Right now, in the dismal light of December with a bone-chilling fog clinging to the barren, snowless landscape, the woolly worm prediction seems to be holding true. Will the trend continue?

Predicting the weather is difficult. Predicting an entire season even more so. Nature is chock full of omens but earth science is another matter altogether. The planet is a complex system. There is never enough information to say with absolute certainty what is going to happen in the near future. All we can do is make educated guesses. And climate change? There is always a need for more information when it comes to that. If we want to know all the facts before taking action, then we will be waiting indefinitely.

I don’t know to what extent human activity alters the climate. I don’t know how hard this winter is going to be. I don’t even know with absolute certainty what the weather is going to be like tomorrow. But I’ve noticed that such things aren’t quite as predicable as they used to be, woolly worms or no. So I wonder with with considerable apprehension what lies ahead.


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