Bringing it Home

We tend to stay too long in that state of mind called “denial.” By the time we realize something is terribly wrong it’s too late to head off the dreaded outcome—just like when we finally install the stop sign at that dangerous intersection, but only after a tragedy has befallen the neighborhood.

E Magazine first wrote about global warming in January 1996, when even major green groups thought the issue was too technical to share with members or too open to “Chicken Little” ridicule in the press. Even today’s media attention on climate change tends to focus on melting glaciers, rising seas, stranded polar bears and other seemingly remote events.

In September 2000 we published another cover story on the issue, forgoing complicated charts, graphs and stats in favor of more “on the ground” evidence that climate change was rapidly beginning to take effect around the globe—from rising sea levels on the California coast and snow cover loss in the Pacific Northwest mountains, to Western Europe’s cooling Gulf Stream waters and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, threatened by coral bleaching and rising tides.

That issue of E was expanded into Feeling the Heat: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Climate Change, one of the first books (there are now dozens) to sound a wake-up call about global warming. Though it preceded Hurricane Katrina, which along with Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth helped propel climate change to the top of the national discourse, it is still eye opening and relevant (shameless plug:

With this issue’s cover story on “losing winter,” we are at it again, trying to bring the issue even closer to home, at least for those of us who know the distinct character of each of the four seasons and, in particular, the beauty of a snowy winter.

I certainly do. Though it rarely snows here in New England until January or February these days, I remember snow on my birthday, November 13, at least a time or two while I was growing up. And that rare Thanksgiving carol, “Over the River and Through the Woods,” includes among its lines, “The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh, through the white and drifted snow

As a youngster I shoveled snow from my neighbors’ walkways and driveways. And we all sledded down our street, a steep hill, after making a big protective fort of snow at the bottom to prevent us from sliding onto the busy cross street. My buddies and I relished throwing snowballs at passing cars. We had many ideal vantage points in between neighbors’ homes, clean shots to the drivers’ side windows. Had a grand old time at that and got chased by a lot of angry motorists.

And good ol” rowdy snowball fights, including those out-of-nowhere attacks on immediate companions, were also standard fare. Here at E we are presently hosting an intern, Katherine, who is from Colombia and has never seen snow. I hope she has the opportunity, and I want to crown her with a slush ball before she heads home, though I probably won’t get that chance.