What Global Warming Means to Me



Amy Stewart was amazed, when she came to visit me two weeks ago, that we still had snow on the ground.  Since then, we’ve had an unbroken run of sunny, hot weather. What global warming means to us is no spring. We go straight from dirty glaciers to July in a matter of days.

This year, we’re doing it without April showers. I can accept a drought at the end of the summer, such as we had last year. I can accept the fact that I was an idiot to give in to the impulse to buy a tree peony in July, and another $29 purchase is now dead as a doornail.

But it is really upsetting me that I left my vegetable garden behind last Monday morning in the country without watering it, and my pea seedlings are probably burning up. I’ve never once set up my sprinkler in April.

Even more freakish, my bulbs seem to be messed up, and instead of the slow unfurling I’ve planted for, they all seem to be popping off at once. Bulbs–more reliable than an atomic clock. But this year, my Single Early Tulips are blooming before my species tulips, tulipa tarda.  That’s not how I remember the order going in previous years. 

If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that the species tulips are sensitive to absolute measures of the season, such as day length. And that the hybrid tulips, which have been bred to be forced in a greenhouse, are more sensitive to temperature. They’ve woken up early, but think they’re late. They’re also smaller than normal in their haste to catch up. "My God, did we miss May?" they are saying.


  1. The hot dryness means that my tulips will be much shorter–I usually have very tall, graceful single lates, but by the looks of things they’re not going to make their promised height.

    My species tulips seem to be on schedule, pretty much. Many are out; some not.

    Though–some species bloom later than you’d think.

  2. I suspect that you are writing somewhat tongue-in-cheek, Michele when you say that global warming means no spring for us, just a mad dash into summer.

    But it’s very important that we don’t confuse climate with weather.

    Yes, we have had a week or so of unusually warm weather. And increased weather variability is one of the things we can expect with a warming climate.

    But I don’t want the climate change skeptics to say it’s all a hoax when we get a late frost.

    I’ve got some pix of our ‘hyper-spring’ over at Ellis Hollow: http://www.remarc.com/craig/?p=371

  3. I’m not sure what global warming means here in western Washington state, but I can tell you that so far we have had the latest, coldest spring in the fifteen years I’ve been here. I’ve still got *daffodils,* and it’s almost May. The tulips (which are usually blooming by the first of April) are barely started.

    And we had *snow* last weekend. Our average high this time of year is 60. It’s barely been pushing 50 this past week.

    If this is global warming, someone’s got it backwards…

  4. It’s remarkable warm here for the second day in supposedly Zone 7b (almost 80° F) — upstate South Carolina. Very dry, too — not many April showers for us, either.

    But one of the predictions about global warming is many more extremes and variability in our climatic patterns! And that would be cool and wet, in addition to warm and dry.

    We actually had nice spring weather up until now, with a more prolonged spring wildflower season. All quite odd…

  5. I’m seeing the same things here… and it will be interesting to see how all of this works when we get 30 degrees and wet snow on Tuesday.

  6. I recall a similar spring some years ago in Boston: late cold weather followed by intense heat and sun; everything flowered at once. But I think there was more rain at that time. I have been watering twice a day when I can…and still some plants are crispy on the ends (like the peonies that have shot up several inches per day).

  7. We have had the greatest drop in temperature ever recorded for one year, verified by all four of the world’s most respected sources.

    UK’s Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature anomaly (HadCRUT) Dr. Phil Jones
    The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies(GISS) Dr. James Hansen
    University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH) Dr. John Christy
    Remote Sensing Systems of Santa Rosa, CA (RSS)

    Source: Global ∆T °C
    HadCRUT – 0.595
    GISS – 0.750
    UAH – 0.588
    RSS – 0.629
    Average: – 0.6405°C

  8. Despite what the media says, its uneducated to say that you can SEE and FEEL global warming. It is a long term change – as in decades and centuries.
    If you insist on believing that it is something you can observe how do you explain Jon’s comments and the fact that the northeast US had the record snowfall – the largest snowfall in this century.
    Really, if you are going to blog about it at least put some effort into understanding it.

  9. Various parts of the world will always be experiencing “extreme” weather. The only thing that would be really strange would be if we had “average” weather every day. The fact is that the earth is warming from a mini Ice Age which was a small setback to the warming from a severe Ice Age. The earth has been cooling since 1994 and this past year cooled 60% of the entire increase of the last 100 years which had been deemed impossible by those who atribute warming to human cause.

    To call warming “climate change” and cooling “weather” is simply an outrageously absurd proposition.


  10. Dear Jon and Lee, my readers are well aware that I am not an idiot and that I understand the difference between climate and weather. That said, it is possible to perceive changes in the weather patterns in my part of the world over the last two decades. We no longer have winter nights heading towards minus 40. Spring plants bloom earlier than they used to. The growing season is longer.

    I happen to trust the overwhelming majority of scientists who believe that the earth as a whole has heated up in the last 50 years due to man-made greenhouse gases–and is likely to heat further.

  11. I did not make any personal assertions, I merely stated the facts. Your contention that the “overwhelming majority” of scientists believe that the earth is warming due to fossil fuel burning is incorrect. I correctly pointed out that while carbon dioxide levels continue to rise the temperatures are falling by historic amounts. This is obviuosly at odds with people who pupport that CO2 causes warming, specifically when warming was deemed to inevitably increase for the next 100 years barring a huge volcanic or other traumatic event. Those that proposed this theory have been proven incorrect without a doubt.
    You may be in an area of the world that is experiencing warm weather (I am not) but the average global temperatures have dropped by the greatest amount in one year in history (history being defined by the period of time allowed to be accurately recorded by “global warming” scientists, the UN IPCC)
    Weather would be defined by your local warmth, climate is the situation where worldwide temperatures have dropped dramatically. To define this worldwide drop as “weather” would be incorrect by any measure.

  12. In the last 3 full years we have had early springs and heavy rains in eastern Oklahoma. Western Oklahoma has been in drought. I cannot plant any veggies in my lower garden – my land is on a ridge so I am not in a low area – I just have two levels of vegetable gardens and if I plant in April in the lower garden, all those plants will drown in April rains. So far we have not had a frost here just south and west of Tulsa. But we have had 15 days of clouds and rain – 1 day of sunshine. Areas around here have had 9 inches of rain – we accummulated 3 inches in a few days and still it spit on us and it is dank. This is the month we have a huge OctoberFest in Tulsa – my husband and I usually go and the last two years we suffered from the heat. This year the entire area will be a huge mud pit – and I will wear extra layers.

    We’ve gardened for 36 years – the last three have been a learning experience – we cannot do anything that we used to do and count on it working. Weather has changed – we have extremes here – both too wet and too dry, too hot and too cool. We even had a tick invasion which I have never had in 36 years.

    I do believe it is humanities fault and the industrial nations carry the biggest blame from my perspective. When I became a professional greenhouse owner I made the decision to go organic because I did not want to contribute to harming another human nor dealing with chemicals that required hazard suits to apply. Susan Gray, OSU extension agent and small fruit expert, toured my small farm recently and saw the gardens and I know we have specimens from tropical to just shy of alpine and with the help of a greenhouse we do grow so much.

    Owning a greenhouse – I hate the term greenhouse gas as it makes me feel like my greenhouse is part of the problem – but I do. I still live in the country so I cannot get to town without a vehicle, I love my washer and dryer and I have heat and air. I mow my lawns, I use an gas trimmer, I don’t use artificial chemicals and my husband insists on using his tiller – so I know we contribute to global warming. We all do – unless we live in a shack with no utilities at all.

    But I do beleive we can move ourselves toward some form of sustainability. My growing chemical free is my way, raising a few turkeys for my own consumption another. I recycle everything practical, food cans, plastic bottle (I never buy water in plastic), newspapers go back into the garden and the slicks are taken to the local recycling plant.

    I’ll do what I can – I hope everyone else is doing the same.

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