Friday, March 25, 2016

Our Spring Points to Global Warming!

     It is the end of March, almost Easter and it is eighty degrees today here in North Carolina.  This has been another roller coaster weather year.  We had an exceptionally warm December and a colder than average January and February.  The end result is a warmer than average winter for this area.  We have already had several very violent masses of storms pass through the state causing wind and tornado damage. 
     This is not only true for here in central North Carolina, as it turns out.  It is also true for the world.  The World Meteorological Organization announced recently that 2015 was a record hot year.  Both world ground surface and ocean bottoms have been measured as having increased in temperature.  This week NASA announced the February 2016 was on average 2.43 degrees warmer.  This was attributed in part to global warming (1.44 degrees) and in part to El Nino (0.45 degrees) as well as some warming due to unexplained causes (0.54 degrees).  The country has been rocked by several massive fronts that generated violent weather and dramatic changes.  Just this week Colorado experienced weather in the seventies and than a day later two feet of snow.
Daffodils photographed on Feb. 16, 2013.  These same bulbs had not even emerged on Feb. 16, 2016
     What does this really mean to us?  I have kept photo and written records of the advances of the season in my area for years.  Here it seems to have translated to an accelerated advance of the season.  In this area the red maples are typically the first obvious trees to bloom.  That usually happens toward the end of January.  On the ground, daffodils normally begin to bloom in mid February.  By mid April we have obvious leaf emergence and azaleas are in bloom.  This year the red maples began blooming in early February, nearly two weeks late.  Daffodils were also an average of two weeks late beginning.  Once they started blooming, however, the length of time that they were in bloom was extremely short with many bulbs only lasting a couple of days.  This was because we had cold below freezing temperatures until the end of February and then the first week of March we suddenly heated up - hitting the eighties by March 8.  This weekend, the leaf emergence is significant and the azaleas are in bloom.  They are three week earlier than they would be for a normal year.  Thus we have compressed seven to eight weeks of a normal spring into three to four weeks.

Azaleas photographed on April 19, 2009.  This same shrub is currently in bloom - March 25, 2016
     We have all heard about the terrible consequences of global warming on a global scale.  Ocean levels are predicted to rise, ice caps to melt, animals to be pushed out of their normal territory, plants and animals to be pressured and even to be pushed to extinction.  What few people are even considering is what does this do to the human population.
     As ocean levels rise, people are going to be forced to move to higher ground.  This is going to exacerbate an already volatile over-population problem world wide.  We have also experienced more violent and more frequent storms.  On a human level, this is likely not only to create issues of food shortage and health problem increases, it is also likely to exacerbate issues of violence and terrorism.  This has hit home to me this week as I have listened to reports of the bombings in Belgium.
     People who deal with global and local land planning know that two things increase the incidence of violence among the population.  The first is an increase in temperature.  People have a hard time dealing with warmer temperatures.  The higher the temperature the more aggressive people tend to become.  This is an issue that has been receiving a great deal of scientific study over the past several years.  The second issue that leads to greater violence has to do with density.  The closer that people are packed into a place the greater the amount of violence.  We need our space as living creatures or we tend to get on each others nerves. 
     Global warming is having a lot of odd effects on our lives.  We all are beginning to experience it whether we as humans are willing to admit that the problem exists or not.  We all have experienced more erratic weather with obvious changes of our seasons.  That weather has become increasingly more violent.  These changes serve as a subtle reminder of other effects that we also are all being subjected to experience, namely increased violence.  This is a problem we have all contributed to and a problem that we all need to work to fix.  It will not go away by itself and our abbreviated spring is a local subtle reminder of this problem.

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