On The Street

A Thing That Should Horrify Adults on Halloween – Climate Change

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By Michael Gold

The origins of Halloween can be traced to an ancient Celtic festival, called Samhain. The Celts used the day to celebrate the harvest, but they also seemed frightened of the coming winter. They thought Samhain a dangerous time because they believed the gods could, this night, play tricks on them.

The Celtic god Dagda was the god of life and death, the seasons, agriculture, fertility, magic and who could control the weather.

I’m getting my information on Samhain and Dagda from varied sources, including Encyclopedia Britannica and SUNY Albany, so forgive me if I have mashed up some mythic information here.

Halloween has become a night of great fun. I’m a big fan of the holiday, but I also can’t help thinking that Dagda, or someone else, might be troubling the Hudson Valley and the world this time of year.

For example, what are we to make of recent events, when we suffered through an early September heat wave, with temperatures spiking into the 90s, as school was just starting, or the downpours from a tropical storm the same month, in which it rained for three days, pounding the area with torrents of water? Or Sept. 29, which flooded the mid-Hudson region, pushing the governor to declare a state of emergency?

The Saw Mill River, usually a gentle stream, turned into a roaring monster freight train of angry water smashing its way to the Hudson. The river came within inches of invading the Grant Street bridge in Pleasantville.

Part of the problem seems to be that the mercury is going up, according to the

state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website.

“Increasing temperature will lead to more frequent and severe heat wave and droughts,” it states (https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/remediation_hudson_pdf/ccinthehvms.pdf).

This information can also be found in Mount Pleasant’s Natural Resources Inventory, completed by the town’s Conservation Advisory Council.

Horrific weather events are plaguing the world. Europe suffered a brutal heat wave this past summer. Hawaii caught fire. Libya suffered massive flooding. Canada’s forests burned, turning the New York sky orange and not in a fun Halloween kind of way.

The Canadian wildfires have consumed 64,000 square miles of woodlands – the equivalent of four countries the size of Switzerland, according to a Sept. 7 Reuters article. The blazes are still going. The country’s minister of natural resources speculated they may continue into autumn, even winter.

We’re talking about Canada, right? Land of cold and snow and moose? What is happening?

The minister said forest fires were not uncommon in Canada, but climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of the blazes, hundreds of which are deemed “out of control” by the Natural Resources Canada website.

The Mississippi River, that grand old man, is suffering from a historic drought. Salty ocean water is moving into the river, presenting a threat to drinking water supplies. Barge traffic, carrying farmers’ crops such as soybeans, corn and wheat, is affected by the river’s low levels. Much of the country is getting hit with drought, too.

The climate is heating up, which is extremely scary, but what makes it even more dreadful is people who see this happening but can’t bring themselves to say it is actually occurring. Or they think it’s not a big deal and that we should keep burning fossil fuels because they’re cheap and plentiful and we would be fools not to. Because there is a lot of money to made. And burning these products is so convenient for us as consumers.

The Russians are drilling for oil at levels never seen before, according to a July 31 report from Bloomberg News. Canada is drilling for oil in its western tar sands, which “emits up to three times more global warming pollution than does producing the same quantity of conventional crude,” explains the National Resources Defense Council website. The Chinese, currently the world’s biggest carbon polluter, are building hundreds of new coal-burning plants, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air states. The British government recently approved new oil and gas drilling in the North Sea.

Oil drilling companies in Texas are consuming Lone Star State-sized amounts of water to get at oil and gas. They’re mixing it with sand and toxic chemicals, then pumping it underground to pull oil and gas out.

“Nationwide, fracking has used up nearly 1.5 trillion gallons of water since 2011,” The New York Times reported in late September.

If people need drinking water, they can buy it in a plastic bottle at the local gas station, because the fracking companies need it more.

Is the Celtic god Dagda doing all this terrifying stuff? Or is the culprit someone we know? That’s the real horror.

Pleasantville-based writer Michael Gold has had articles published in the New York Daily News, the Albany Times Union, the Hartford Courant, The Palm Beach Post and other newspapers, and The Hardy Society Journal, a British literary journal.

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