The Importance of Visits from Polar Low Pressures, aka Vortex

NPR ran a story this morning about what media outlets have started calling a polar vortexIt’s an ordinary and important occurrence that has been recently been given a new label to make it newsworthy. But as the report says:

Such temperature shifts serve a purpose, says Steven Nelson of the National Weather Service.

“These cold intrusions, cold fronts, are really restoring the balance in the temperature and moisture across the earth’s surface,” he says

The story got me to thinking that turning these cold fronts, or winter in general, into a thing deserving of our ire is like calling sleep or weekends or vacations something that deserves our ire because the need for their restorative actions disrupts our regular routine. But then, that’s the point, isn’t it.

And for those who point out that cold weather kills many people each year so shouldn’t we hate it, we might ask why it is that a wealthy nation can’t find a way to assure everyone has their basic needs of food, shelter, etc. met. Maybe the weather too often is a scapegoat for what is really a social, political, and economic problem.

If we are to live sustainably, we need to better appreciate the rhythms of nature and appreciate the restorative aspects that are so desperately needed by the more-than-human and humans alike!


About mwolske

I'm a Senior Research Scientist in Community Informatics at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois.
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