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Friday, April 27, 2012

Is Climate Change Changing Your World?

Recently, I read an article entitled 8 Ways Global Warming Is Already Changing The World, which if nothing else got me thinking about if climate change (I really dislike the term global warming because it has become a political topic rather than a scientific one) has really impacted my life.  I do a fair amount of reading and thinking about it, but I hadn't really thought about its impact on me.

According to the article, global temperatures have risen by 1.33 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 100 years, with over half of that movement happening in the past 35 years.  I have seen similar statistics quoted by many on both sides of the warming argument so I will accept that this, or something close, is true.  So, has 1.33 degrees really impacted me?

Item number two on the article's list was "Altering breeding seasons."  The article quoted several instances where animal species' breeding seasons were changing due to warmer weather.  Of course, all of my observations are anecdotal, but I concur.  Over the past decade or so, I have noticed whitetail fawns birthing periods extending in central-Indiana.  Instead of a two-week period where almost all of the fawns were born, I am now seeing that period become more of a four week period.  I am guessing that due to warmer temperatures, fawns can be born earlier in the spring, thereby increasing their ability to be more prepared to survive the upcoming harsh winter.

Item number four was "Altered Thoreau's stomping grounds."  Based upon the great information that Henry David Thoreau documented in the 1800's, it appears that in his area, blooming dates for 43 common plant species has moved 10 days earlier.  I can most certainly affirm this to be true in my area, with the caveat that I think the bloom has moved forward by way more than 10 days.  Every spring I am amazed by how soon flowering plants are blooming.  Many wildflowers in my area were in full bloom in March rather than the old standard of late-April.

In addition to the 8 ways listed in the article, I thought of a few more.  Central-Indiana used to be in USDA agricultural zone 5 and any perennial plant with a zone hardiness of 6 or higher had little to no chance of growing perennially in Indiana.  Now we are zone 6 and I often see people successfully grow plants with a zone 7 rating.

Snow used to be much more common in the mid-Indiana winters than it is now.  We still have snowstorms, but ice storms are becoming much more common unfortunately.  The break point between snow/ice/rain seems to have shifted about 50 miles northward in my lifetime and now is right along I-70.  Since I live about 10 miles from I-70, my beloved snow is now often replaced by ice.  While I don't like shoveling 12 inch snowfalls, it is a picnic in the park compared to chipping up inch-thick ice formations.

Female Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Female Ruby Throated Hummingbird in flight

Also, it appears that migrations are changing.  Over the past few years, I have noticed some bird species such as robins migrating less, while others still migrate but arrive back here sooner than in previous years.  One of my favorite birds, the ruby-throated hummingbird, appears to be arriving in Indiana sooner and sooner.  According to the Journey North website, in 2008 and 2009, the hummingbirds first had significant sightings in Indiana the week of April 11.  In 2010 and 2011, these sightings happened the week of April 4.  This year, significant sightings occurred March 21.  In fact, by the end of March hummingbirds were being seen as far north as upper Minnesota!  In addition to hummingbirds, I am noticing that turkey vultures and sandhill cranes moving northward earlier in the spring than normal.  Additionally, I am noticing ring-necked gulls staying here less time before heading back north.

Finally, it does appear that the intensity of storms in my area is on the increase.  Since 2008, we have had two 1 in 500 year rains and about a half-dozen 1 in 100 year rains.  In addition to earlier and more destructive tornadoes and hail storms, it does seem that the weather is getting more intense.  If you don't agree, I suggest to speak to the homeowner in Henryville Indiana who had his home completely leveled by tornadoes twice in 11 months.  What are the odds of that?

So to answer my original question, I do believe that climate change is affecting my world, but not all in a bad way.  I missed the snow this year, but I was able to do a lot more outdoor activities.  My trees and other plants seemed to do much better this winter, and the deer look much more healthy than they normally do in April.  In fact, my average heating bill was the lowest it has ever been. 

While I know that the increase in carbon dioxide and average temperatures can have ominous consequences at some point, so far I have been spared the pain.  What is your opinion of how, or if, climate change is changing your world?

1 comment:

    Indeed there definitively is a change in the climate although I wouldn't either call it "global warming".
    And indeed the issue has become political because the elite wants to impose taxes upon as many countries as possible...
    But I do also believe that we are not so much to blame since climate changes have been going on since time immemorial! I don't think we can point an accusing finger to anything or anyone since we know close to nothing about the world we live in!
    Humans believe they are all knowing but are we??
    I imagine myself as an ant living in a large anthill having no idea of what's going on 10 meters away... much less over my head!
    I also think the Earth has seen dramatic changes in the past and can pretty well manage by itself, creating new species. These evolve than disappear to leave space to others.
    How can we fight that?
    We love our fauna and flora as it is, since we never knew anything else!
    But this is just my opinion as you solicited reactions! :)
    Naturally, I would have so much more to say like everyone else, but in a comment it seems difficult and my ideas might disturb a few! LOL!
    Interesting subject!
    Cheers and enjoy your WE!!


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