Tonkon

It Doesn’t Take a Weatherman...

Environmental


2/23/2017 by Janet Neuman

It Doesn’t Take a Weatherman...

Actually, sometimes it does take a weatherman. Or a weatherwoman, as long as he or she is a real meteorologist, with an actual degree in SCIENCE, as Bill Nye the Science Guy might say.


A month ago, when record snow was dumping on Portland and across the state, the Oregonian ran an article titled: "There's snow in Portland, so is global climate change even real? Yes, say scientists." National Weather Service meteorologist Jon Bonk explained to the reporter why the record snowfalls and cold temperatures in Portland do not disprove climate change, or “global warming” as some non-scientists still call it. My favorites of his quotes: "'Climate' is what you expect, but 'weather' is what you actually get." "A single weather event doesn’t prove anything about climate change."


In fact, not even the last three or four events prove anything, except that you really didn't need a weather person to tell you that it was cold out there. What counts are the long term trends, and those clearly show a rise in average annual temperatures overall.  If the snow didn't erase your memories of November and December, you may recall that camellias, rhodies, and azaleas, and all kinds of other spring-blooming plants were tricked into a crazy fall bloom in 2016. On December 3, another Oregonian article was headlined "What's with all these early blooms?" and another scientist helped readers understand that phenomenon. Kathie Dello from OSU's Climate Change Research Institute said then: "We're looking at one of the warmest years in the history of Oregon." Lots of October rain and a warm November fooled the plants.   


The seesawing weather was confusing and frustrating for Portlanders whose fall-blooming shrubs fell victim to piles of heavy snow. But the same off-kilter patterns—and more so, the long term trends—could be much more serious for nursery crops, vineyards, berries, fruits, nuts, and agriculture in general. The broad agricultural sector is a key part of Oregon's economy, and when it comes to climate and weather, we're all in this together.