December 24, 2022

The temperature has hovered between 0F to 20F (-17.7C to -6.6) for the last week.  While Northwest Arkansas did get 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) of snow, all we got in the River Valley was a dusting.  With the temperature this cold we are technically going to have a white Christmas as even our snow has not melted.  The cold has been accompanied by wind gusts that have driven the ‘feels like” down below 0F (-17.5C).  I have not been taking Zena for her daily walks and she is getting antsy being cooped up inside.  Today the winds dissipated, and the sun was out, so Melissa decided to let Zena out back to run.  I watched the birds clamor over our feeders and thought I had better refill them.  When I opened the back door to the patio the vinal I had placed on the door of our makeshift greenhouse came loose.  When I looked, I saw almost five feet of the sticky backing had separated from the plastic.  The temperature had gotten so low the glue would no longer hold.   

An AP article in my paper reported the cold temperature has hit Germany as well.  Churches have joined in the country’s efforts to save on heating costs this winter, forcing congregations to wear increasing layers of clothing.  At the same time, the churches are providing warm spaces for the homeless and for people who are struggling to pay their bills.  Germany is trying to reduce energy use to head off a potential energy crunch after Russia stopped gas supplies.  Many German churches have decided to switch the heating off completely or limit the temperature.  At Martha Church in Berlin, worshippers are being offered extra blankets and heated cushions to keep warm during services as the capital endures a prolonged spell of below-freezing temperature during Advent.  Pastor Monika Matthias says the church is currently between 12 and 14 degrees Celsius (53.6 and 57.2 F).  She said the temperature does not bother her as she is active during services, but other worshippers have found it a struggle to stay warm.  Coffee and tea are offered to heat them up afterward.  During a recent service, most members of the congregation continued to wear their thick winter coats, and many wore hats, scarves, and gloves, with blankets draped across their laps.

While worshippers wrap up to stay warm, churches continue to run shelters for the homeless and for people who are otherwise in difficulty.  There is a focus this year on providing warm spaces for people who do not have access to adequate heating to fight the low temperature.  Ralf Nordhauss of the Diakonie Deutschland charitable organization said the situation is “critical” for people struggling to pay bills amid soaring inflation.  Many prefer to turn the heating down or off rather than get into debt, and more people are expected at shelters.  “Here, it’s not just the homeless, but people who are simply looking for companionship or advice, or a coffee and a warm room,” Nordhauss said.  There are all kinds of warmth needed in times of shortage.

THOUGHTS:  When the temperature drops, I can complain and stay inside where it is warm, but others are not so lucky.  Each year, more than 100,000 people die from cold in the United States, and 13,000 in Canada.  That is more than 40 cold deaths for every heat related death (2,500).  Globally, 1.7 million people die of cold each year, dwarfing the 300,000 heat deaths.  Tackling cold deaths is much harder than heat deaths because it requires well-heated homes over weeks and months.  Heavy-handed climate policies only increase heating costs and make cold deaths more frequent.  Climate change is about extremes, and not just about getting warmer.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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