Bubble Bubble, This is Trouble

It was ninety-one degrees here in Portland last Wednesday. Now I really feel like a slacker for not getting my peas in, especially since according to the new USDA growing guide, Portland just got bumped from zone 7 to 8, which is warmer.  So I could have planted my peas a long time ago.

I thought something was up when I heard that we’ve got enough olives growing in the Willamette Valley to warrant an olive oil festival. As a matter of fact, according to the Washington Post, the new growing guide shifted the kinds of plants that need warm weather north all over the country. I must be a curmudgeon, because being able to find Hood strawberries at the farmer’s market three weeks early doesn’t make me happy. I think it’s scary.

Sure, the Midwest is having a long winter — but that’s the difference between weather and global climate change. As a whole, the planet is warming up. Now it’s something you can see. Big chunks of ice melting. Big! Like polar ice caps and Antarctic sheets.

Antarctica Summer Ice Melt

Summer ice melt in Antarctica is at the highest point In 1,000 years, researchers say. Getty Images

And I’m not irritated about that, because well, how can you be irritated about your home planet turning into Waterworld? And running around screaming doesn’t seem to do any good. I tried that, yesterday.

But what does irritate me is that only 47% of Americans believe that global warming is caused by human activities. Only one in five Americans know that eighty percent of the planet’s scientists agree that global warming is a basic fact.

Time to believe the back of your seed packet. It’s here. It’s happening. And whether or not it’s our fault, it’s time to figure out what to do about it.

Brenda Stevens

Currently, Brenda is a writer of commentary, essays, and books. She believes in saving the world through music, the written word, and not looking before you leap. You can catch her on her blog. Listen to PRP

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2 replies
  1. Gordon J. Fulks, PhD
    Gordon J. Fulks, PhD says:

    Dear Brenda,

    You forgot to mention that the US Department of Agriculture specifically says that “changes in zones are not reliable evidence of whether there has been global warming.” They explain here that all they have done is to reflect climate averages over a more recent period:

    http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/AboutWhatsNew.aspx

    For the Pacific Northwest, that means they now use the warmer period after the ‘Great Pacific Climate Shift of 1977,’ when the Pacific Decadal Oscillation abruptly shifted to its warm mode.

    We have been on a significant cooling trend for the last ten years and some cooling for over two decades. This is NOT reflected in the most recent USDA zones. You may recall our extraordinarily cold spring in 2011, which NOAA said was the second coldest in the region’s thermometer record.

    As to polar sea ice, that is near normal now, with the Antarctic well above normal to record levels and the Barents Sea (but NOT the entire Arctic) far below normal. There is a vast amount of great information available from the University of Illinois here:

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/

    As to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), the hype about collapse is, well, hype. The affected area is a relatively small portion of Antarctica and has nothing to do with ‘Global Warming’ or man-made carbon dioxide. Antarctic temperatures have been gradually declining for thousands of years and also for the last 50 years too. The collapse began about 15,000 years ago as we bottomed out the last ice age and the great continental glaciers melted, raising sea level 400 feet. That sealed the fate of a small portion of WAIS, but it has taken many thousands of years to play out. Portions of WAIS will collapse unless we enter another ice age in the next thousand years or so.

    As to Global Warming, you can see here that the Global Temperature Anomaly has shown no trend since about 1998, despite a slow increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide:

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/

    This is the official NASA global temperature data from UAH. You can find very similar results from the other group that analyzes the same data, RSS (Remote Sensing Systems)

    In summary, the scientific story is far different from the hype.

    Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)
    Corbett, Oregon USA

    Reply
    • Brenda Stevens
      Brenda Stevens says:

      Dear Dr. Fulks,

      This subject is controversial, and I was expecting some feedback.

      I have used links within the text posted on the website to provide additional background information. You may find these in the “Washington Post” link, which talks about the USDA not connecting dots between the growing guide and climate change, and the link associated with “47% of all Americans,” which refers to “the most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in September 2013, (in which) scientists agreed that it is “extremely likely” that human emissions of greenhouse gases are causing the planet to warm.”

      Thank you for your response.

      Reply

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