Even as Earth Day approaches, there are signs here in upstate NY as well as across the world, in the remote fastness of the Himalayas, that something strange, almost bizarre, is going on in the weather. Signs, did I say? They are more like thunderclaps; no one can ignore them.
The Rochester local daily, Democrat and Chronicle, carries every other day news of local farmers desperately trying to save their crops from the vagrant weather. The plants budded early due to record heat in mid-March, and then in early April temperatures dropped. Recently, in the dead of the night when the temperatures dropped below freezing, Gary Craft owner of a fruit farm outside the town, where we had gone last summer with the children to pick blueberries, fought off frost with controlled burn, something rarely done in these parts.
Some farmers could do no more than go down on their knees and pray. They, and all of us here, are hoping that come summer when the full impact of this crazy spring on the crops will be realized, it won’t have to make it to the front pages. This follows the adage no news is good news!
On the other side of the world, the Darjeeling tea industry which is totally dependant on the weather, is already counting its losses. The production of first flush crop is way down, by some estimates it could be as much as 50% lower than normal.
Darjeeling tea lovers world over wait with much anticipation for the first flush harvest. After the winter dormancy, the new leaves of spring from the bushes make for one of the finest teas. But a prolonged cold spell and lack of winter rain delayed the harvest this year.
For the past nearly four years now the first flush in Darjeeling have been affected by erratic weather. Sandeep Mukherjee, the principal adviser to the Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA), pointed out at a worrying trend. “The hills are receiving almost 20 per cent less rainfall during winter compared with showers 20 years ago,” he noted.
This also means for Darjeeling residents a scamper for drinking water, which is another painful story. Something I lived with for a long time.
On this Earth Day let us remember that this planet we call home is indeed a small place, that there are strange goings-on in the weather globally, that we are all in this together.
“There is enough in this earth for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed." - Gandhi.
*Credit for the Rochester farmer picture: D&C
*Credit for the Rainfall chart: The Telegraph, Kolkata