Friday, November 4, 2011

Acceptance of anomaly

Here in the eastern seaboard, we neatly avoided a big - and definitely freakish - snowstorm a week ago. The autumn was mild for weeks, so not only did the leaves not fall, they barely turned the colors we all know and love. When some cold hit a large patch of precipitation, snow resulted - quel surprise! And when that snow accumulated on all those un-fallen leaves, many, many trees died from the damage.
My friend in NY city said about 1000 trees in Central Pk died or had to be pruned down to just about nothing.
We, here, have large areas of green trees among the gold and red. When the temperatures plunge further in the next few days, I hope the air remains dry, or the same calamity may befall our precious trees.
With increasingly frequent freak occurences, abnormality may be the new norm. At what point will the general consensus be that something just ain't right? How many anomalies does a person have to witness before the idea of "right" starts to shift?
Everyone knows how difficult it is to change a food habit. (We can thank the omnivore brain for that.) Perhaps all resistance to change comes from this most basic one. The omnivore brain evolved to deal with an embarrassment of riches, food-wise. Our metabolic needs require dietary variety - yet a measure of conservatism is necessary to prevent or minimize accidental poisoning. Foolhardy gourmets die young.
But people tend to cling to other notions - plenty of them, in fact - not only what kind of breakfasts works best. The tendency to stick to something once it works ("bacon and eggs - what's not to love?") can lead to inflexibility when it comes to abstractions such as climate change.
It would be interesting to do an experiment in which opinions on controversial and fairly abstract environmental problems were measured along with the person's dietary range. My hypothesis is that those who eat the most conservative diet (i.e., least open to novelty) are also conservative thinkers.