January 16, 2007
Crimes of the Hot
The weather has been peculiar this year. Sure we've had warm El Nino winters before, but season has been stranger than anything I can remember. The place where I snowboard was closed again for the third weekend in a row because it was simply too warm to even make snow. Last week when the temperature rose to record highs, I heard tree frogs. It was disturbing to hear that discordant note of spring; I don't usually hear the first peeper until the end of March. Plants and animals seem confused by the weather: buds are swelling months too early, trees have been tricked out of dormancy, and birds that should have flown south months ago are still here.
My teenagers, lulled by the warm weather, have been playing with frisbees instead of snowboards, wearing hoodies instead of winter coats, and leaving their sneakers outside on the back step to dry.
Naturally, my scientific colleagues have been discussing the weather, sorting out what can be attributed to El Nino, and graphing the more subtle changes that are global warming. Both local information (that is, anecdotal information gathered from someone like my father who has lived here for 75 years) and scientific information indicate that the climate is changing, although certainly there is some uncertainty as to what exactly that change might look like. I've seen charts that graph trends out for fifty years or five hundred. It's pretty scary.
Of course, many of us are wondering quite simply, what might happen this week. The temperatures have been dropping rapidly, an ice storm yesterday was followed by snow today, and winter is returning all of a sudden. Below freezing temperatures and snowstorms are absolutely normal, of course, but this year, many plants and animals that were lulled into thinking it was spring are going to be caught by surprise.
Note: Today's title comes from my youngest son, With-a-Why, who was sitting next to me when I wrote this blog post. He read the post and said, "Call it Crimes of the Hot. It's the Futurama episode about global warming.
Posted by jo(e)