A year ago today I was at a resort in suburban Albuquerque NM. It was a nice spring day, and I walked down to the Rio Grande River and saw this tree which was winning the race to be first to leaf out for 2011.
Today, exactly one year later, I went to my favorite little park in my suburban St. Paul MN community, and took a photo of a typical tree from roughly the same perspective as I did a year ago.
If anything, the Minnesota tree is further along this April 10 than its New Mexico neighbor ten degrees of Latitude (roughly 700 miles) to the south was exactly a year ago. The tree in Woodbury MN seems, among its peers, to be about average in leaf development this April 10; last years New Mexico tree was far ahead of its neighbors, which is why it attracted my attention back then.
What is going on?
I’m not a fool. There are many variables that might possibly lead to the unusual “twinning” of two trees of different species far distant from each other. There are differences in weather, day to day. Etc. Etc. Etc.
For certain, however, March, 2012, was an exceptionally warm month. Odd and often unusually severe weather, from droughts to storms, seem more frequent, and more and more certainly linked to human behavior. (UPDATE: Yahoo News had this about March, 2012, on April 15.)
There is something else going and on, and except for those mired in fantasy or with a particular vested interest in maintaining a particular illusion that climate is not changing, and that humanity has nothing to do with it, the debate is over: we humans in the industrialized world have had a great deal to do with the changes we are seeing, and while we don’t know the precise consequences for each of us where we live, there are definitely consequences and they are likely not going to be pleasant.
It was seven years ago this summer that we saw Al Gore make a powerful presentation in St. Paul on what he called the “Inconvenient Truth” of Climate Change. And a year later, we saw his powerful film on the topic. (It can now be easily accessed everywhere.)
An Inconvenient Truth has survived vicious criticism over the years: About a year ago I heard a well known climate scientist say he’d give An Inconvenient Truth 90% for accuracy – a very high grade in anyone’s league, especially when it comes to complex science.
Listen. Learn. Close down the denial mechanism.
Humanity – especially the developed industrialized world – is doing ourselves in and it bodes ill for the future of succeeding generations, perhaps even our own generation.
Check in once in awhile at the website of a new organization called Science Debate.
A while ago I asked a good friend who’s passionate about this subject to recommend a single website he thought would be a good portal for ongoing information. Here’s what he recommended.
But whether these sources, or any one of many others, get engaged and do your part to stop the denial.
As farmers have known forever, weather and climate are bigger than we are.
We are fools to make them even larger factors in our future than they would naturally be.
UPDATE APRIL 11, 2012:
from Lee Dechert, St. Paul: Within the climate science community, Skeptical Science is regarded as the best up-to-date source for a basic understanding of climate science, and for countering misinformation and disinformation on that science. Al Gore is a good example. Last year Minnesota Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen and his GOP committee members rejected and ridiculed Prof. John Abraham’s expert testimony that opposed rescinding a state law that limits emissions from coal-fired power plants and prohibits construction of new plants. I e-mailed a complaint to him; he replied in part by ridiculing Al Gore; I responded in part by saying there are people who also deny the holocaust. His co-authored bill was based on an ALEC “model bill” and was one of the environmental roll-back bills vetoed by DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. The GOP, with its Tea Party backers, is the only major political party on our planet that has officially denied the reality of human-induced global warming and is opposing public and private efforts to reverse it and adapt to its climate change impacts. The International Energy Agency has warned that some impacts will soon be irreversible.