Monday, January 7, 2008

A Little Spot of Weather

We'll be having a little bit of weather today. Yesterday was unseasonably warm and today will be warmer - nearly thirty degrees warmer than normal. The expected high is to be 65°, which would break the record of 59°, set in 1989. Just one week ago, we were under a winter storm warning, and we're expected to be back to normal temperatures by the end of this week.

Ah, such a roller coaster we're on! On one hand, we love this springtime in the midst of winter, but on the other, we know that it's not a good thing for our gardens. Last winter had such extremes, too, and many people experienced losses because of it. Ideally, we would have snow cover all winter and steady or gradual temperature changes. But then we'd live in the Yukon, right?

Luckily, most plants are pretty versatile and they'll take this moment of springtime in January in stride. When we have days like this, the talk of global warming invariably comes up and discussion ensues. I've already expressed my opinion on this subject, and I don't believe that it's because of global warming that we're having above normal temps right now, but it is a very real concern. We typically only hear about the bad aspects of it, but it has its good points, too.

I came across an interesting article in the 2007 issue of The Old Farmer's Almanac entitled "The Good News About Climate Change." Written by Evelyn Browning-Garriss, this piece lists several advantages we'll experience due to this general warming of our planet. I love this - a glass half-full look at our environment. This is not to ignore the concerns about the negative impact global warming will have, but hey, we know there's always two sides to every story. I urge you to read the whole story, but here are the highlights, excerpted:

Warmer weather is healthier. A study by American doctors estimated that a warming of 4.5° would reduce the annual death rate in the U.S. by 40,000 and annual medical costs by $20 billion per year. Different studies have concluded that the decrease in cold-related deaths would be much greater than the rise of heat-related deaths.

Warmer temperatures save energy. Most of the warming we've had has been in the form of warmer nighttime and winter temperatures. In addition, locations closer to the poles have experienced greater warming than those nearer the equator. Northern cities have warmed more than southern ones. If energy prices remain constant and we enjoy the weather predicted for the 21st century, energy costs for heating and cooling will be cut by at least $12.2 billion annually.

Water is more abundant. Warmer air holds more moisture. Global warming will mean more condensation and evaporation, producing m
ore and/or heavier rains. Warmer temperatures also means the moisture will be carried further inland before it cools enough to precipitate out as rain or snow, bringing life-saving moisture to previously parched areas in Asia and Africa.

Plants thrive in heat and CO
2. The warmer air is lengthening growing seasons. Warmer air usually holds more moisture. Increased man-made and natural CO2 increases photosynthesis. The gas indirectly acts as a fertilizer and increases plant growth, especially in plants like wheat, rice and soybeans.

Arctic shipping routes will save time and energy. As the ice melts, new waterways are being freed up, saving time, energy and money. Airlines already use routes over the North Pole. The melting ice has also allowed access to new oil and gas fields located in the Arctic.

So, while there are certainly issues to global waming that will be detrimental and should not be ignored, it's not all gloom and doom either. The earth has always been in a state of change and we'd better learn to change with it. Living things have an amazing ability to adapt and while we may lose some species, think about this - we don't have dinosaurs anymore either.

Evelyn Browning-Garriss, editor of the Browning Newsletter, has been writing, speaking, and consulting about the social and economic impact of climate change for more than 30 years. She tracks weather trends and cycles from her office in New Mexico.


Natalie said...

I would have to take issue with the "water is more abundant" comment - it may be more abundant in certain areas, but it's sucking it up from other areas. So, while parts of Asia and Africa will get more water, you're losing it from places that currently have water. Also, you're more likely to get that water in a few large doses, causing big floods, instead of lots of gentle rains.

So, your "more abundant water" is less useful water, and it's not more abundant, it's just coming from different places.

Kylee Baumle said...

Hi Natalie ~ I don't know, because climate change wasn't my major in college; I just posted a summary of the article by someone who studies the climate for a living because I thought it posed some interesting points I'd not heard before. I think Ms. Browning-Garriss does point out indirectly that "looking at the big picture" gives a different view than just looking at only the negatives.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

It was warm here today too. I enjoyed getting the christmas down and put away. Usually I hate to take down christmas becasue it is so dark and dreary. However today the windows were open and it felt like spring so it felt right to clean out the house. :)

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

Hubby is a HUGE fan of the Old Farmer's Almanac and so am I. Great stuff! I really appreciate what you've shared here. I think you and I have similar theories about climate change and it's nice to read that someone is trying to see the positive aspects of the changes.

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

KC MO Garden Guy said...

I have often wondered if there were benefits to global warming. Thanks for sharing what Ms Browning-Garriss has to say on the subject. You were correct in saying that the world has always changed and we need to change with it. We also need to be aware of our actions and how our actions will effect the generations to come.

Nancy J. Bond said...

It's in the 50°F range here in Nova Scotia today...a typical January thaw. I enjoyed your post, and thanks for your visit and kind comments today. I'll be adding a link to your blog in my sidebar...lovely photos!

Anonymous said...

Kylee: Catching up on reading and your blog is always a pleasure. Nothing really stays the same year to year does it?

Kylee Baumle said...

Lisa ~ I know what you mean! I had the window open in the bathroom while I was showering and getting dressed for the day. The air smelled wonderful - just like spring. That always motivates me to do lots of things, including organizing and cleaning. That urge has passed though. LOL.

Cindy ~ I don't think we're the only ones who feel that way about the climate change issue. I don't deny that it is a big concern and that we should all be mindful of our bad habits and practices, but I also don't buy into the dire straits that some would have you believe we'll be in. With or without us, there will be changes.

KC MO Garden Guy ~ I actually did this post for the benefit of our son-in-law, who was interested in the possibility that there might be some good come about because of climate change. It's certainly good to be aware of our effects on our environment and inasmuch as is humanly possible to leave only footprints and take only memories. However, we have also grown accustomed to our comfortable lifestyles and conveniences and to ever totally give those up is unrealistic.

Nancy ~ I've really enjoyed your blog, which I found through Jodi. Thank you for YOUR nice words and for adding me to your links! :-)

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