Thursday, June 28, 2012

Can We Finally Agree Mild Winters Are as Welcome as 3-Headed Fetuses?

The question posed isn’t intended to be facetious or absurd. Consider the underlying logic and compare it to the logic desiring more and more mild winters: If one head is terrific and confers terrific thinking-brain power, think of what THREE heads with three brains can do! How can you not gush over a newborn with three heads! I mean, serious prodigy on the way!

If one mild winter is delightful…..glorious….and spares you all those extra heating (gas, electric bills), not to mention busting your butt shoveling snow….good grief…think of what having one every winter would be like! If one mild winter saves you $1,000 in energy bills and 40 hours of back breaking shoveling....then my Gawd! 10 mild winters will save you $10,000 in energy (likely more because of inflation) and 400 hours of shoveling!

Trouble is BOTH are aberrant! Both are abnormal and portend nasty, undesirable consequences. But in this blog I will note again the mild winters every manjack was gushing over 5 months back – see. e.g.

but via fast forwarding to the present.

According to ABC weather guru Sam Champion on the ABC ‘Good Morning America’ show this morning, 1011 heat records have been broken in the the past week, 22 states are currently under heat wave advisory, and 260 fires are raging in the West. Can we now agree that “beautiful, mild winters” are not what we want ….they’re aberrations and about as normal as 3-headed infants? Can we now agree that those “mild winters” ought to have conformed to the normal 20 (or 20 below) depending on where one lives, with lots of snow? Can we agree that when we don’t see those  type of snowy, cold winters bad things occur down the line?

I recall a visit to a local UPS store in early March when the temperature was 72. This was at 8.30 a.m. The lady manning the register cooed how “beautiful” the weather was instead of having the normal 20-30 degrees and snow. I stopped her in her tracks and said ‘don’t be so hasty to laud this weather….it’s not normal…and wait til the summer when we’re boiling with high 90s and 100s!” Regretfully, my forecast turned out to be too true. It’s not even July and Colorado Springs has already had more than a week of 95+ days, and three with temperatures in the low 100s. Moreover this abnormal (up to 15 degrees above avg.) heat has fueled the conditions for the Waldo Canyon fire to erupt.

But why can’t we have nice, pleasant mild winters at least some years?”

Because even more abnormal events occur when the REAL hot season arrives! The abnormality of the climate then leads to abnormalities in the ecologies of locations where natural balance is only upheld by the definitive cold, or definitive differences in seasons. Case in point: the Rocky Mountain West, which now has some 6 billion trees converted into potentially explosive kindling ready to burst into flames because of the mountain pine beetle. The proliferation of the pine beetles led to the death of those billions of trees and their conversion to the approximate equivalent of a latent kerosene –soaked firewood, now dry but still lethal.

The beetles proliferated when the Rocky Mountain region began having too many mild winters instead of the normal 30-40 degrees below zero intervals that would have wiped the critters out. Thus, instead of regular cycles of bug ‘wipeout’ there was only steady population increase, and that meant the food sources had to expand to feed them. The multiplying pine beetles then infested more and more and more trees (already victims to the spruce budworm) with their numbers exploding each summer – having had time to recover and even increase during the winters, and springs.

Clearly, people must grasp that there is payment to be made, or rather steep costs in their lives – to enjoy those nicey, mild winter days. Ask all the thousands now driven from their homes in Colorado Springs, and the hundreds who have lost them. Ask those throughout the West living nearby to one of the two hundred plus monster fires ....whose homes may yet be incinerated. Ask them now, if they had it to do over again, if they'd opt or gush for the mild winter five months back.

For me, I winced with each mild winter day beheld this past season. I thought of the early weeds and insects that would emerge and multiply, including West Nile mosquitoes, and also reasoned that if it was this warm in January or February (when it should have been in the 20s instead of high 60s) what the hell would it be like in June or July. I suspected weeks of high 90s by extrapolation, and that is what we’ve seen in most of Colorado.  My one regret is that when I did a model projection (see image from the first link given above) it was actually much more conservative than what we’re now seeing (scorching smothering heat except for the west coast). The likely reason is using earlier NOAA models as fiducial markers, instead of going with my gut of blistering 90s-100s for most of the nation.

In any case, the constant and severe heat conditions that actually emerged have fed the dry conditions that led to the massive wildfire with 2 mile high flames lapping at our doorstep. The heat has also fed the hundreds of fires throughout the west.

Moral of this story? Don’t pine for any more mild winters! Beg, pray or beseech whatever power or divinity you might believe in to make those damned winters as cold as they ought to be for the specific regions. In other words, placate your deity for the winters of yore to return!

For me, I won’t be beseeching any distant or other entities, only acknowledging that the current CO2 concentration  (395 ppm) is now too high to allow any return to normality. This means ever milder winters and springs, longer summers, and eventually a continual “summer” subsuming all other seasons for most of the planet. Those like me who fondly remember the past and how seasons used to be defined….will now be left only with the dregs of long lost memories… the heat continues to increase year after year.

See also:

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