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Allen Shoffner

A Commentary

Allen Shoffner was a Bedford County native, attorney and author. He passed away in February 2015.

A commentary on the weather

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The weather has been the subject of comments, conversations, opinions, and predictions since the world was created. There is no better way to start a conversation than to comment about the weather. Every person able to express an opinion usually has an opinion about the weather.

The first person to provide a weather forecast was Noah who received from God the early warning about the flood. God sent this bad weather because "people have made the earth full of violence." The warning was specific: Noah would be provided with seven days' notice of the flood. It would rain for 40 days and 40 nights. Noah was told how he could save his family and provided specific instructions and specifications for building a boat.

God also directed Noah to gather up and bring into the big boat "two of every kind" of all creatures in pairs. Noah was instructed to bring into the boat "each male with its female," in order to propagate and continue life on earth after the flood. Noah followed these instructions. He and his wife and their three sons and their wives survived the flood along with the paired creatures of one male and one female. Genesis 6, 7, 8. (New Century Edition).

There are agnostics, disbelievers, the "doubting Thomas's," who will not believe without finding a piece of the boat that was stuck in the mud on Mt. Ararat. They believe that this is just a legend like the legend of Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog, and that there should be scientific evidence before believing what is written in the Bible.

If one does not believe what is written in the Holy Scroll, he is gambling with his own Soul. There are many things worthy of belief that cannot be touched, seen, heard, smelled, or scientifically proven with our limited senses.

Omens about the weather have grown up in some literature. The ancient mariner in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, killed the Albatross. It had come to his ship as a good omen: "As if it had been a Christian soul, We hailed it in God's name." When the mariner killed the bird, it became a bad omen which was hung around the mariner's neck:

And now there came both mist and snow,

And it grew wondrous cold,

And ice, mast high, came flowing by,

As green as emerald.

Farmer's Almanac

The Old Farmer's Almanac has forecasted the weather for two hundred 21 years. It says that its weather forecasts are based upon a "secret formula." It claims success, but the success rate is not shown in the almanac.

Nature has provided some "non-scientific" bases for making traditional predictions about the weather, such as the thickness of the corn husks in the fall; the fur on animals; the quality of nuts and other food stored by animals for the winter; the height of the hornets' nest from the ground; the amount of honey stored by bees. Predictions about the weather have also grown out of old repeated "sayings" from the farm and home, such as "a bee is never caught in a shower."

Weather forecasters, realizing that omens and traditional predictions were not very reliable, started using scientific instruments to predict and record the weather: A barometer; a rain gauge to measure and record rainfall instead of a bucket; and a thermometer to measure and record heat and cold instead of what it might "feel like." And some of the people most affected by the weather have followed the example used by Noah. They have built storm shelters to protect their families from the storms.

Forecasters' technology

Weather forecasters are using the latest technology to predict the weather and digital screens to explain it. They have told us what an artic vortex is and when to expect it. The forecasters compete to show the accuracy of their predictions. The storm chasers make predictions that are simple and dangerous--they use the windshield method to record the storm as it happens. But, as in all things, God's Nature prevails.

Weather forecasters can tell us, with reasonable accuracy, when and where it will rain or snow, the severity of the wind, and the path of the storm, but the meteorologists, scientists, and other experts have different opinions, with different degrees of confidence, on whether or not our climate is affected by what has been called "global warming." This is the most important social and political issue facing our generation.

'Unscientific' thoughts

Please allow me to offer my unscientific opinion on this subject: I am convinced that the world's climate, and the health and lives of the world's inhabitants, is threatened by climate change. I am also convinced that this climate change is caused by poisons in our air and environment. I am also convinced that this climate change is causing extremely violent and unpredictable weather.

Sometimes it appears to an observer that the world is falling apart and is being destroyed by floods, fires, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, tsunamis, and collapses of the land. I am further convinced that human activities on the land are contributing adversely to the cause of climate change. Some of these human activities are the result of human greed: The greed to take limited natural resources for instant gratification and personal gain today without regard to what is left for tomorrow.

Other human activities are the result of waste in our throw-away society. The end result of this greed and waste is poisonous air in our lungs, polluted water in our streams, and turbulent, violent weather that kills and destroys.

It's common sense

I may be asked: Do you have any evidence to support your unscientific opinion about global weather change? That is a fair question. I do not claim to be an expert. My opinion is based upon common sense.

When I look across the land now I see trees on which the leaves have lost their natural green color, dropping to the ground prematurely, trees with broken and twisted limbs, dying a slow death. I see polluted streams. Life on the land is not what it used to be. Air turbulence upon aircraft is more severe. These observations may not be evidence, but I get a bad feeling from them.

There are others who argue that global warming is just fiction. It is also a fair question to ask those making this argument to show how they arrived at this conclusion. Is it supported by independent studies and unbiased scientific evidence? Or is it supported by those whose opinion has already been bought and paid for by the army of lobbyists, lawyers, and public relations spokespersons hired by individuals in corporate board rooms who have a vested financial interest in obtaining such a conclusion? Has conservation of our natural resources been factored into this conclusion?

Take a close look

If global warming is treated as fiction, the corporate raiders are left un-restrained to continue to spoil the land. The unofficial corporate policy would continue: Keep digging; dig up, dig down, dig sideways; frack and crack through the sand and shale and suck out get all of the oil and gas; dig and lay the pipelines; if the fracking and cracking poisons the drinking water in the aquifer; or if the pipelines blow up because of faulty welds and lack of maintenance; or if the people start choking on the smoke, fog, and poisonous air, the raiders will have already been done and gone.

If any landowner objects, condemn his property by eminent domain. By that time the company will have recorded record profits; the company will have rewarded conspirators who furnished biased information with million dollar contracts; and rewarded the corporate officers with multi-million dollar severance packages, who will be enjoying retirement and a second life in a sunny resort with fresher air and cleaner water.

-- Allen Shoffner is a Bedford County native, retired attorney and author.

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