Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thousands of USA heat records broken -- new widget tracks them all

The weather has finally cooled down here in Minnesota -- at least for now.  Over 4000 heat records have been broken so far this summer in the USA, and the PBS Newshour site has developed this widget to track them all.   Use the scroll arrows to see records set by day, month, and year.  (You can get the widget code for your own site at:, where you will also find an informative article.   And yes, the widget will run year round, since records get broken in winter, too.)


As you can see, some of these records stood for more that 50 years.  Clearly this is a disturbing pattern -- and one that does not bode well for the future.  Global warming is here, whether the deniers like it or not.  Perhaps that's the REAL meaning of the endtime prophecy that says people will be "eating and drinking as in the days of Noah."  Maybe not gluttony as has been thought, but apathy in the face of warnings.   No doubt they laughed Noah, too: "A flood?  In the desert?  You've got to be kidding!" And we all know what happened to that generation.

And it's not just a matter of things warming up.   Climate change means weather patterns are changing, too.  Places that used to get rain are turning into deserts -- witness the drought and famine in Africa.   I remember hearing years ago that the monsoons in India were no longer coming reliably, but nobody heeded the warning.    Those same monsoons are what used to water the fields of Somalia.  And the southwestern USA (where a lot of these records are being broken even as I write) is experiencing the worst drought since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

On the other hand, Minnesota has been drowning in much more rain than usual.   Rivers reached record highs, there have been numerous flash floods and many more severe storms than usual.   Every time the Jet Stream takes an  abnormal plunge south, it sucks up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and pulls it north.   Here in Pine County, MN, it rained just about every other day (sometimes several days in a row) in July.  I ended up growing a lot of my garden veggies in containers, because it was just plain too wet to till the ground.

Down the road from me is a cornfield that never got planted.  Lots of other fields lie fallow, too.   All of which is resulting in higher prices in the supermarket.   Parts of my lawn got so out of control I just let them go to seed and will mow it down for chicken bedding when -- if ever -- it dries up a bit.  Meanwhile, I struggle to keep up the mowing around the house and trails to the outbuildings.  Wild plants in general are huge -- I've got ragweed with inch-thick stems, eight-foot-high Jerusalem Artichokes (sunchokes), and enormous blackberry canes trying to take over my garden.

 On the other hand, pollination has been iffy.  There were very few wild berries in spite of all the rapid growth.  And not one wild plum on my trees.  Pollinating insects don't fly in the rain.  Some don't even fly on cloudy days.  And I have not seen one single honeybee -- not one!   Whatever is causing the demise of the honeybees has apparently reached here.  This spring, when I stood under my apple trees, I did not hear the happy buzz of honeybees, although some pollination did happen from other insects, because apples are forming.  The honeybee niche seems to have been taken over by a  species of small bumblebee, which I have seen on my cucumbers and squashes in large numbers.  Something is pollinating my tomatoes also, although there are fewer fruits than in other years.   And as I wrote in a previous blog post, the Monarch butterfly population crashed here this year -- I have not found one single caterpillar.

All of this is very disturbing, to say the least.  Nature will eventually adjust to climate change -- but will we?

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