Does it snow during Transition?

There seems to be a positive correlation between snowfall and the deepening of transition in Romania. I could not identify a causal relationship, if there is one; I leave this task to whomever wishes to do extensive research in explaining this rather curious observation. For now, I restrict my analysis to presenting empirical evidence that sustains a possible hypothesis. This is not science-fiction. Unbelievers…believe!

This is a common-sense analysis of what is currently happening in Romania. A possible reason for my making references to other countries could be identified in the fact that us Romanians have a tendency to focus on other people’s business and not our own; at least that’s what some of us say.
 For starters, I feel that I should establish some premises for my analysis:
     • “Global” is certainly a fashionable word nowadays: global “village”, global politics, global transformations, global warming etc. All of these are probably the results of what we call globalization. Even though the climatic changes are not directly related to globalization, the term “global warming” is. Globalization comes with the need of reconsidering the consequences of our actions: in our times we are not only members of our nations; we have become global citizens – a status which should make us more responsible for our actions.  Thus, morally speaking, US citizens need to realize that their country is responsible for 40% of global pollution of the atmosphere. Those 40% probably contributed to what we now call “global warming” which can lead to both to unprecedented violent storms in Europe and the destruction of the polar bears’ natural habitat.
      • “Global warming” is global because of three reasons: its causes are of a global nature, its consequences also affect the entire planet; the third reason can be exemplified by the fact that I am a Romanian writing about global warming in an article in English for a European on-line magazine. Global warming is also made global because the term is circulated on a global scale. The latter reason is irrelevant without the existence of the first two.
     • Weather affects our everyday activities. Also it is a common subject of discussion among persons.
     • The President and The Government are fundamental institutions in the functioning of a democratic state. Both of them are either directly or indirectly elected by the majority of the voting population. They are representatives of the people they govern. They are vital for a well-functioning democratic system.
      • Putting all these facts in the context of Romania’s recent history has led me to the following conclusions.

Since the fall of communism Romania has been striving to reach the condition of “developed country”. The process of transition seemed to be a true political, economical and social saga. In 2007, it is finally over: the adhesion to the EU brought with it the official end of the transition process in Romania. We all celebrated the receiving of the otherwise well-earned status of European citizens.
     The last years before 2007 were the last years of transition. Among other interesting phenomena that marked this period there was one that attracted my attention: the lack of snow. In the last winters it only snowed once, and rarely twice, per season. As 2007 seemed to get closer nobody seemed to be bothered by the lack of snow.
     Three years ago in downtown Bucharest, in the University Square, the local administration replaced the traditional Christmas tree with an unusual clock – a clock witch counted down the days until January 2007, the planned date for our grand adhesion. The years after 2000 were marked by our European dream. For us, Europe meant (at least in theory) the inclusion of us along with our country in a larger, international community – it meant the political integration into the global economic and political system; “It put Romania on the World’s Map”.  

      Christmas and New Year’s Eve are traditional celebrations. A popular saying says that “Christmas isn’t Christmas if it doesn’t snow”; the back-up saying (in case it doesn’t snow until Christmas) is “It’ll snow until New Year’s Eve. That’s for sure!” Well, it didn’t happen this year, it hasn’t snowed yet and it is the 27th of January.  Christmas 2006 passed. Snow or no snow, who cares about the snow or the sayings?
     The big event was the coming of 2007: on the 31st of December 2006 more than 100.000 celebrated in downtown Bucharest. They did not celebrate New Year’s Eve though. They gathered around the big clock and waited for it to say zero; they listened to political speeches from the President and the Prime-Minister; this was not a usual New Year party. This was the EU party. Snow, of course, was not invited.
Transition is something Romanians are afraid of. It has meant nothing but trouble for most of the country’s citizens. Local industry fell, agriculture went into chaos, people had to migrate from cities to villages in order to survive etc. All of these were associated by the public opinion with the process of transition. The adhesion to the EU meant the end of it all. Now we can truly party!

After the first of January 2007 lots of things changed. It’s not too hard, for someone who usually watches the news, to notice that in the last weeks two main themes have dominated the Romanian mass-media: a political scandal involving the President and the Prime-Minister and the change in our country’s climate – to be more exact: it hasn’t snowed so far and winter is almost over, actually the temperatures resemble mid-spring.

     Western European countries are traditional members of the EU. Their societies are considered to be highly developed. Democracy is also considered to be functioning quite well. Higher salaries and the better quality of life are considered to be the biggest differences between Western countries and their less developed Eastern counterparts. Also, I just saw this on the news: It is snowing in Western Europe.
     If my hypothesis is correct, and the EU adhesion meant the end of Romania’s transition process, then it should have snowed by now, actually it should have snowed quite hard. I guess that’s not the case since I went out for a long bicycle ride through the park a few days ago; I had two t-shirts on and a pair of short pants. The weather resembles mid-spring: people might be shopping for bathing suits, no snow, no ice, some friends of mine invited me for some beers on a terrace.
     During this time, the political scene was quite agitated. The President and the Prime Minister have been arguing quite badly about some notes they had sent each other almost a year ago. This situation evolved into a large-scale political crisis. This smells like transition to me, deepening transition. But it can’t be, the transition is over starting with 2007. Plus they said on the news that it could start snowing at any time. It’s got quite cold in the last two days but still no snow, I bet it’s just a tease.
     Some amateurs might blame the warm weather on global warming. I blame it on the fact that we’re up to our necks in transition. Romania and Romanians have no idea what global warming is just as they have no idea what the EU or the global economic market mean. We have demonstrated time and time again that we are incapable of thinking on a larger scale; we limit our thoughts to our own persons, families, country etc. One thing we should know which could change our perspectives is that both global warming and globalization are here to stay.

     After the 1st of January 2007 almost no major economical, political or social problems appeared on the public agenda. We are currently expecting for something to happen; meanwhile, our leaders are fighting each other and we are thinking of going to the seaside. All the pre-2007 tensions were forgotten and now we limit our attention to much more pleasant issues. If we’re waiting for something to fall out of the sky what should it be, development or snow? I guess it’s snow; development would probably hit us too hard in the head. There should have been a good part to all of this: we finally realized we have less snow than they do…it should have been a good (but rather late) beginning to solving our society’s problems. But as usual, we overestimate are status.
     Maybe if it were snowing we would stay indoors and reconsider our situation. Maybe Traian Basescu and Calin Popescu-Tariceanu would go ice-skating together and be friends again. Then again maybe it will never snow again until we’re out of transition. Establishing a causal relationship is out of my reach.

Things can be better though. There are some of us who have learned how to escape from the transition towards market economy and democracy: the people who have chosen the third way of transition – migration to the snowy areas of the West. For the rest of us that remained at home there is one other hope: to go skiing in the mountains. But before anyone rushes over there you should know that the best places to ski in Romania are very expensive and the police has recently developed a habit in restricting access to selected citizens. Oh, and the snow on the slopes…it’s artificial.
As for me…I’m considering another bike ride…

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