Grace Communion International

…and another thing  by John Stettaford

If in the spring a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love and romance, what does the middle-aged think of, or even some of us crusty old’uns? I for one start thinking of cutting grass, decorating and spring cleaning.

It is certainly wonderful to see the change on my journey to Reading each week. The green buds of the trees and bushes have all begun to cast a green hue over the landscape. Blossom and spring flowers are also on show. In short, nature is astir!

And that’s one of the promises made to mankind after Noah’s flood that from then seedtime and harvest and spring and winter would all come in their proper seasons. The record hints that up until then there was no set guarantee that spring would come in the spring, summer in the summer, etc.

Imagine a world where what is expected didn’t come. And I might speculate that something similar is beginning to happen today. Spring is certainly coming weeks earlier. Is that global warming? And if it is global warming is it all due to man’s interference with nature?

I suspect that it’s a mixture. There seems to be a natural cycle where the world cools or heats up, and that, with added man’s actions, may have jolted our world into boosting what would otherwise be a natural warming, into a super warming.

As a reader of Charles Dickens I am always conscious that he lived at the end of what is now known as “The little ice age”. Winters were long and hard in his day. Hence the layers of clothes worn. Hence his preoccupation with the winter delights of Dingley Dell. In one of his stories a group of travellers become stranded at an inn on their way. Snowed in, as they are, there is nothing to do but to each regale the others with a story each night after dinner. Dickens commissioned about a dozen authors to write for him, and published the collection in The Holly Inn.

In his day the road from London to Rochester was often deep in snow for months at a time. So the release of spring became a very special event. Our winters are not much different from the rest of the year. And we move freely most of the time. Only when something a little out of the ordinary intrudes, do we feel the need to suspend services for the week.

There are indications that our world has been warmer than we remember. Ancient maps exist of Antarctica shown clear of ice and snow, with features that no one in our time could imagine, but we are now finding, as the ice retreats, do exist.

According to some, climate can be tied more closely to sunspots, and at present we are in a cycle of low sunspot activity. As that changes, naturally and according to the cycle that the sun goes through periodically, will we experience global cooling as a consequence? Will glaciers advance, and the ice shelf off Antarctica grow once again? If global cooling comes, how will that be explained in terms of man’s adverse effect on climate?

Apparently observers watching Mars have detected changes in its climate which cannot be laid at man’s door, only to natural rhythms and the effect from the sun, even though farther distant from it.

There’s an awful lot we don’t know. I don’t say we shouldn’t study and improve our understanding, but let’s acknowledge that at times we really don’t know, and should say so.

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