One subject that is bound to get people crazy is global warming. And it's no wonder. Weather is one of those topics that never seems to get old on the farm, or anywhere else for that matter. Endless hours are spent wondering if we can beat mother nature, or if she is going to beat us.
I sat in on a presentation form a U of M meteorologist this past February on global warming. I don't have his presentation, but here's what I remember. Weather averages are reported on a 30 years average. In 2010, the average dropped off the decade of the 70's, and picked up the decade of the 2000's. When that happened it changed the average rainfall for Brookings, SD from 19.24" to just over 24". The high temps for the area aren't as high, and the lows aren't as low. But the the high of the day to the overnight lows, aren't changing as much. We are also dealing with more humidity. A dew point of +70 degrees feels tropical, and used to be rare in this area. Last summer we had 7 days with a dew point of over 80 degrees. On July 19th, Morris MN had a dew point of 88 degrees. Rain events are changing as well. In the time frame from 1986 to 2004, our area averaged just over one rain event per year that amounted to over 2 inches. Since 2004, Sioux Falls, SD has had 23 such events, with the largest event being 4.85". The presenter was quick to point out that he wasn't a theorist, but just a numbers guy. Does this change things on the farm? Absolutely. If we can't count on overnight cooling, and have to deal with high humidity, shade and cooling become MUCH more important. More fat cattle of the black variety during the summer is a real situation that needs to be addressed.
So why do I bring this all up? Everyone has been spending the last decade blaming everyone for everything. Claiming something isn't our fault and that it isn't happening are two different things entirely. So many are trying to find fault with everything and everyone that it gets hard to deal with possible issues. FTLB has been available for 20 years and ammonia has been used in food preparations for decades, but is now being blamed for killing us? If one takes a stand in support of technology we get accused of poisoning the planet. Life expectancy is higher than ever, and we are feeding more people than ever before, but still it seems to be in vogue to accuse farmers and ranchers of all sorts of evil.
Is global warming real? I don't know. But I know our winters have been incredibly mild in the northern plains. Europe has been cold. They were trying to skate the canals in Holland this year for only the second time since the 1970's. It hasn't been cold enough for the race for decades.
I know that in today's environment everyone is an expert. The Internet has allowed everyone a voice. But leveling the blame is getting in the way of moving forward.