Climate change has turned our farms into lakes.

floodwaters

Floodwaters in Henderson County, NC

 

For the past three or four years, I’ve been noticing drastic changes in our climate that can’t be explained by temporary freakish weather conditions or other passing factors.  These are enduring, permanent changes that have affected the climate in the mountainous regions of North Carolina (Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains)  and have actually raised us up a notch on the Plant Hardiness Growing Map so that plants that were once not viable here (due to it being too cold) can now be grown.    Soon I expect to start seeing palmetto trees!

Forgive the gallows humor, because it really is no joke.

In spite of occasional blasts of severe winter weather and single digit temperatures, for the most part, the past three or four winters have been extremely warm, some days so warm you can go without a jacket or sweater.  I remember Christmas Day of 2015 was in the seventies.   I’ve seen trees and flowers blooming as early as mid-February.   I may live in the south, but it’s not the tropics or even the deep south.   In normal years the winters have been consistently cold, though they don’t last very long, even here in the mountains, where it tends to be colder.

hottesttemps

But even more noticeable than the higher temperatures and earlier springs (and later winters)is the rain.  While climate change has made some parts of the country, such as California and much of the west, extremely dry and prone to drought and devastating wildfires, other places are getting an excess of rain (and severe storms).  We are one of those places, and the rain often leads to flooding, something that until recently wasn’t that common here, or at least was confined to specific areas that everyone knew to avoid.  Now it seems to be everywhere, and is affecting small farms in this area the most drastically.  There’s an area of fairly flat land in Henderson County that I pass on most days.   This is a valley area which is often used as farmland or grazing land.    Now many of these farms and grazing areas seem to be almost permanently flooded, forming shallow lakes and ponds.   The water never gets a chance to evaporate sufficiently before the next rainstorm comes along and causes even more flooding.

The rivers also seem unusually high.   There are times certain roads have been closed off due to the rivers and streams overflowing their banks.

And the mud!  While it tends to get muddy here every late winter and early spring, I’ve never seen anything quite like this.   When you walk across the grass,  you feel the ground give way beneath you like a soggy sponge.   Trees have fallen because the ground is too soft to hold their roots in place.   And all my shoes are ruined.  This forested region is fast becoming very close to something resembling a wetland.

The speed of these changes is scary.  Climate change is real.  Anyone who tells you otherwise either isn’t paying attention or has bought into lies certain powerful politicians and CEOs are telling.

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Denying the obvious.

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Climate change is not a theory, but a scientific fact with nearly as much evidence to back it up as the existence of gravity.  Scientists and climatologists aren’t stupid or deluded.  They have spent years studying geology, climatology, oceanography, and meteorology.   Climate change isn’t a conspiracy theory dreamed up by George Soros, China, or “the left.”   It’s not God punishing us for homosexuality or abortion (some right wing evangelicals actually believe this, but there isn’t even a logical connection between natural disasters and sinful behavior so their “argument” is no more than superstition).  Climate change is a real thing, and we would be wise to heed the experts and not right wing politicians and conspiracy theorists who continue to deny what’s right in front of them.

Climate deniers like Trump remind me of my deceased mother in law, a malignant narcissist who lied about things that were obvious to everyone else, and then, when she was shown evidence that she was wrong, instead of admitting her folly, continued to deny the obvious and even double down on her “beliefs.”     I remember a year or so after I got married, my husband and I moved into the first floor of her two family house in New Jersey.   It was an older house, and hadn’t been maintained well, and unbenownst to us, it was infested with termites.

One spring day, we had a massive swarm. Flying termites were literally coming out of the walls and oozing out of every corner.   They were dropping their wings all over the living room floor.   There must have been hundreds or even thousands of them.   I was terrified and felt like throwing up.   I called my mother in law down to look and begged her to hire a pest control company.   But not wanting to take any responsibility, she denied the termites were even there.    She said they weren’t termites, they were “bugs” caused by “dirt.”   We weren’t dirty people, but she was trying to blame us, saying if we were “cleaner people” there would be no bugs (especially since they hadn’t invaded her upstairs living quarters).

She reacted the same way when the basement washing machine broke.   It was 20 years old, and bound to break eventually, but she said we broke it because we shouldn’t have been mixing different colored clothing in the same wash.   Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.  How does mixing colors cause a washing machine to break?  It doesn’t.    It was a lie she made up to blame us.

Trump’s behavior toward the people of California when he finally went there to survey the damage caused by the wildfires reminded me so much of my mother in law.   Instead of showing empathy to the people and offering help and temporary FEMA shelters to people left homeless by the fires, he tried to blame Californians, chiding them for “not raking” the forest floors.    Raking forest floors to prevent fires makes about as much sense as not mixing colors to prevent washing machine breakdowns, or dirt causing termite infestations.    Malignant narcissists, instead of admitting they may have been wrong, double down in their convictions,  and if they have to, they will concoct the most outrageous and ridiculous lies to “back up” their ludicrous claims.

Recently, a climate report by an independent and scientific agency came out, and it contained an alarming warning:  if we don’t stop our use of fossil fuels immediately, our planet’s weather will continue to worsen, with more severe and frequent hurricanes and other devastating storms, more frequent and damaging wildfires like the one that continues to rage in California, and eventually the ice caps will melt, completely changing the outlines of our coasts and submerging vulnerable landmasses like Florida and coastal cities like New York.   The Gulf Stream, which warms western Europe (which otherwise would be as cold as Canada and the northern US due to those countries’ high latitude) would be disrupted, and those countries could be plunged into deep freeze.

I could go on about all the changes but there are way too many to name here, and most of them would be devastating to life on this planet.

Yet Trump and his supporters continue to deny climate change, calling it a conspiracy theory, a “Chinese hoax,” and a left wing anticapitalist plot.    They see how bad the weather has been in recent years, with terrible and frequent hurricanes, wildfires like we’ve never seen, long droughts, flooding rains, the destruction of crops, much warmer winters than have ever been normal, and generally,  strange and severe weather that’s atypical for its location and latitude.

Trump thinks that because it happens to snow somewhere, or temperatures are colder than average on a given day, that means “global warming” is a hoax.   The term “global warming” has fallen out of favor (even though average temperatures are in fact rising) because the outcome of climate change doesn’t always mean hotter temperatures, even though over the long term, the earth is warming.  The preferred term is now climate change, because it takes into account the fact that a warming planet can cause every kind of severe weather, even bitterly cold temperatures.

globaltemps

A good example of how this can happen is the Gulf Stream (which I already mentioned earlier), a current of warm tropical water that originates in the Gulf of Mexico and crosses the Atlantic, moving to the northeast, warming up northern and coastal Europe. The warming effect gives countries at high latitudes (Ireland is at the same latitude as Labrador!) much warmer weather than they would otherwise have.   If the Gulf Stream were to become disrupted (and the melting of the ice caps and rising sea levels would certainly do that), those countries will become much colder.   Yet it’s because the planet is warming, a chain of events started by the melting of the ice caps which would turn the entire Atlantic colder for a time.

*****

Further reading (please read, it is important):

A Grave Climate Warning, Published on Black Friday 

Spring in February?

If you doubted climate change is real, the past two winters are enough proof to me that it is.   The past two winters are the two warmest winters on record (for this region, anyway), and I have never seen anything like this:

springinfeb

Yes, those are cherry blossoms on those trees.  Other trees are blooming too.  The grass in my yard is ready to be mowed and flowers are starting to bloom everywhere.  The temperatures in the daytime have been in the 70s.

This is in the mountains of North Carolina, not northern Florida.   In normal years, our highland climate isn’t very different than that of southern New Jersey or the Mid-Atlantic states.  Winters here tend to be of fairly short duration, but they are normally quite cold and we do get some snow.

I love spring (it’s my favorite season), but this isn’t normal. These trees should not be blooming for another month.

The weather in other places has been very strange too.   Freezing cold temperatures in the Pacific Northwest (where it’s usually fairly mild in the winter), and days of flooding rains and tropical storm force winds in coastal California.

What a perfect time for the president to silence and attempt to shut down the EPA.

I’m attending a March for Science here in my city on Earth day — April 22nd.   It will be my first protest activity against this administration (besides my incessant rants in this blog and on Facebook and Twitter).  I’m fed up with the science deniers who act like global warming isn’t real, and now we have a woman under Trump (Betsy DeVos) who has plans to remove the teaching of science in schools (and defund the public schools while she’s at it).

If you want to help save science education, there are Marches for Science in many US cities.   Their website is here, and by scrolling to the bottom, you can find out where there will be one near you:

https://www.marchforscience.com/

 

 

Spring in January?

januarytemps

I adore spring (it’s my favorite season), but the temperatures all along the East Coast have been unseasonably warm for at least a week (like , 60 – 70 degrees every day) — and there is no sign that it’s going to get colder any time soon — even though the forecasters are promising winter isn’t done with us yet.  Apparently, it’s warmer in New York than it is in Florida — at least according to this map.  Now, that’s weird.

What concerns me is that the trees here are looking a little “pregnant” — that is, they’re starting to get that sort of full look, with a muted reddish tint, that trees always get in the late winter just before they start to bloom.   Usually that doesn’t happen until March in this region, or sometimes as early as late February.  But mid-January?  That’s not normal.

The grass is also starting to look like it needs a mow.

I also saw a bee buzzing around.  And the birds were singing as if it was May.

I think I recall in 2007, the same thing happened.   Shortly after Christmas it got warm and stayed warm for two weeks — and the rose bushes outside started to bloom.  So did some of the early-blooming shrubs.  But it got cold again, and by the time real spring rolled around, the shrubs decided once was enough: they weren’t going to put on their flamboyant show of color again.   So they just went from bare to green.

If it stays warm, then, well, maybe global warming is true after all (and now we have a President who thinks it’s a myth started by the Chinese) and we can start to plant palm trees here on the East Coast.   Hey, I hear they plant them on the Jersey Shore now!  They’d probably have an even better chance here in the South.

But if it gets cold again, which most likely it will, then I’m afraid we’ll be in for another barren, bloomless spring, like we had in 2007.

Spring, you know I love you, but please be patient!   It’s too early.

Autumn 2016: warmest in U.S. weather history.

I still had flowers blooming outside in November.    Personally, I do believe in global warming.  Could this be an indicator?

Autumn 2016: Warmest in U.S. Weather History

By: Bob Henson , 6:10 PM GMT on December 07, 2016
 

https://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=3521

The autumn of 2016 was the warmest ever observed in records going back to 1895 for the 48 contiguous U.S. states, according to data released on Wednesday by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). The nation’s average September-to-November temperature of 57.63°F was a full 1.05°F above the previous autumn record, set way back in 1963, and it was 4.08°F above the 20th-century average (see Figure 1). The record-setting margin of more than 1°F is a hefty one for a temperature record that spans an entire season and a landmass as large as the 48 contiguous states. For comparison, the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh-warmest U.S. autumns are all clustered within 1°F of each other, as are the six coldest autumns on record.

Pushing this past autumn to the top of the temperature pack were the third-warmest October and third-warmest Novemberon record, along with the ninth-warmest September. Eight states along a swath from New Mexico to Michigan saw their warmest autumn on record, and every contiguous state except for California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington had a top-ten warmest autumn (see Figure 2).

us-temps-sep-nov16

Read the rest of this article here