So I’m taking the garbage out on a rainy, 50+ degree Monday morning in February, and I think to myself: self, I’ve been on this earth for three decades and a little more, so I’m old enough to remember Februaries where the temperatures didn’t climb out of the 30s, let alone into the 50s. Heck, I remember a nasty St. Paddy’s snowstorm just back when I was in college, but it seems like every year we get warmer and warmer earlier and earlier. Also, let me shake my walking stick and tell those punk kids to get off my lawn. Now, I know that talking about climate change as scientific fact might earn me a trip to the gulag if Tweety McTinyHands ever finds out, but I’m willing to take that chance. I’ll be the first to admit I’m no climate scientist: at current I’m the guy still in his pajamas at 11:30 in the morning, writing this and watching an old episode of WCW Saturday Night from 1998. But unlike some of our leaders and elected officials, who seem clueless about basic facts and realities of everyday life in their big-shot bubbles, even I can figure out that something is goofy here.
So, what gives? Southeast Minnesota has, luckily, been one of the parts of the state that has gotten enough rainfall over the past few years, but it seems to be coming too hard and too fast most of the time. Back on August 19, 2007, my future home of Hokah broke the record for rainfall in a 24-hour period with over 15 inches of rainfall. According to information from the National Climate Data Center, we’re getting an extra 1/3” of rain since the 1970s. If these trends continue, what will southeast Minnesota look like by the time my daughter is in her 30s?
Will Minnesota start to resemble the Pacific Northwest? Will we talk about a new Minnesota rainforest? Or will the increasingly hotter summers (half a degree up every decade) make Minnesota look more like Missouri? Will the wheatfields move north, and corn production move to the Iron Range? Will workers and industries be driven out of the scorched plains and suddenly move to Preston, Mabel, or Spring Valley? What if California, currently drowning, has another record-breaking drought and Minnesota’s dairy farmers are asked to grow carrots or broccoli? I’m asking because I honestly don’t know, but these are questions all of us should be asking. If all of this continues at this pace, my daughter’s Minnesota will look a lot different than my Minnesota, and there’s no guarantee it’ll be better or worse.
I could be totally off base with what I’m saying here, but I’m just going on the information I can find on these here internets. I know we’ve all noticed that the weather is getting warmer, wetter, and wilder, so what can we do to prepare? Governor Dayton (with the help of a DFL Congress) has done a lot to prepare Minnesota for a changing climate, but we do live in a Democracy and at the end of the day, we make the policy when we vote and when we contact our legislators. If you think it seems a little weird to be in shirtsleeves in February in the state that often wins “worst winters” in the U.S., call your rep or your senator and tell them you’re starting to worry if these warm winters will have lasting effects.
And if you don’t think gradual warming will have lasting effects or cause trouble… maybe you should ask last Thanksgiving’s turkeys how that worked out for them.