This winter so far has been reassuringly usual, if you ask me. In the long run, I mean. Since November it has not gotten ridiculously warm for days at a time, and unheard-of amounts of snow have not dumped on us three or four times running.

For the past maybe 10 or 15 years, though, this usual has been unusual — weather anomalies such as monthlong January thaws and 2-foot blizzards have been getting to be the norm. That weird rotating ice disk in the Presumpscot River notwithstanding, right now things look a lot more like memories of winters past. Cold, snow, ice. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think things had come back to normal.

The trouble is, I know better.

While the weather here in Troy seems for the moment settled, there are elsewhere those massive rainfalls. Those multiplying Western wildfires, trains of stupendous hurricanes, sharp rises in ocean temperature — especially in the Gulf of Maine, practically the backyard.

In his recent book, “The Coming Storm,” Michael Lewis portrays in compelling detail the lengths the National Weather Service goes to in trying to accurately predict the weather, specifically tornadoes, and the bewildering problem of packaging its information so people will listen to the predictions, for their own safety. Making a complex problem exponentially more difficult is the fact that forces inside the government — especially in recent years — are working to restrict what information the National Weather Service can provide for free, and to force it to funnel information exclusively to private services that charge fees for the reports.

In the private services’ ideal business scenario, members of the public pay for tornado warnings; for those who can’t pay, tough luck, even though your own taxes already paid for gathering the information. President Donald Trump’s nominee to head NOAA, Barry Myers, is the CEO of Accuweather and has no science background whatsoever.

This kind of system-rigging is starting to seem like the usual. (See more examples below.) The trouble is, we all know better. It’s not that there weren’t huge hurricanes, hot and humid summers, and deadly wildfires — or rigged systems — in years past. There were. But they were not the usual.

My snow-filled woods seem relatively calm and normal this winter. But as everyone who looks beyond his own backyard knows, much bigger storms are gathering.

• Global emissions of carbon dioxide increased 2.7 percent in 2018, a record high. They increased 1.6 percent in 2017, but had been essentially flat from 2014 to 2016. In the U.S., CO2 emissions rose by about 3.4 percent in 2018.

• The World Health Organization reports that air pollution kills 7 million people a year and harms billions more.

• In 2018, the monarch butterfly population in California declined by 86 percent from 2017; California’s monarch population has declined 97 percent since the 1980s, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

• The federal government’s National Climate Assessment released in November warns that global warming “is transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us.”

• President Trump said of the report: “I don’t believe it.”

• A reinsurance firm reported that natural disasters caused $160 billion in economic damage worldwide in 2018, with losses from wildfires rising dramatically in California. The wildfires are believed to be linked to climate change. Trump has repeatedly blamed forest mismanagement for the fires, a claim many foresters believe to be absurd, and he threatened to withhold funds to contain the fires.

• In December, Andrew Wheeler, who was appointed acting administrator of the EPA after the resignation of Scott Pruitt amid scandals, announced that some restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from coal power plants will be lifted, in part to spur construction of new coal plants. Wheeler is a former coal lobbyist.

• This month, Trump officially nominated Wheeler to head the EPA.

• A report by the Union of Concerned Scientists charges that the Interior Department under Secretary Ryan Zinke became essentially a front for the mining and oil and gas industries. New policies include, for example, a process in which science grants over $50,000 made by any Interior program must be reviewed by “a single political appointee with no science degree.” The appointee was one of Zinke’s high school football teammates and his professional background is in credit unions.

• On Jan. 2, Zinke resigned amid numerous ethics complaints.

• David Bernhardt was appointed acting interior secretary. Bernhardt is a former mining, oil and gas, and water lobbyist.

• During the government shutdown, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management has accepted and published more than 20 new drilling permit applications in Alaska, North Dakota, New Mexico and Oklahoma. The department was not accepting other sorts of filings, such as Freedom of Information Act requests.

NOAA.gov web pages showing weather and climate information are offline during the shutdown.

• In November, five oil and gas companies were approved to use seismic airgun blasts to search for oil and gas deposits in the sea floor from New Jersey to Florida. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management had denied the proposals in 2017, saying the activity would endanger marine life.

• In case it has somehow escaped your attention, the scientific consensus on climate change, as summarized in a report detailing how U.S. national parks are even harder hit by warming than the rest of the continent, is that: “Anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases have increased global temperature about 0.85 degrees Celsius from 1880 to 2012, causing glacial melt, wildfire increases, biome shifts, plant and animal range shifts, and other historical impacts around the world.”

• In a statement that 40 years ago would have seemed welcome and usual, but has in recent years been unusual — nonexistent, actually — Gov. Janet Mills said at her inauguration: “Our new administration will embrace clean energy, change our modes of transportation, weatherize homes and businesses, and reach a goal of 50 percent of our electricity coming from Maine renewable resources.” And she plans to refit the Blaine House with solar panels.

Maybe hope for my woods will return, someday, to normal.

Dana Wilde lives in Troy. You can contact him at [email protected] His recent book is “Summer to Fall: Notes and Numina from the Maine Woods.” Backyard Naturalist appears the second and fourth Thursdays each month.

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