Saturday, December 17, 2016

Year End Observations

If you think we had a mostly mild and pleasant November, you'd be right. Last month, record warm temperatures reaching up to 10 degrees C above average, were observed across the northern hemisphere, including Alaska, northern Canada, Siberia, Greenland, the Southeastern US and Western Europe. In mid-December, temperatures are still way above average, as much as 16 degrees above normal for the northeastern US.

Weather forecasting all a matter of probabilities, the further out you go, the worse the probability you will get it right. That being said, forecasts for up to five days in advance are much better than they used to be.

A few months ago, the long range forecast for this winter was for it to be as bad as last winter. Now, not so much, mostly due to the El Nino weather pattern in the pacific.

The Farmer's Almanac forecast for the northeastern US is for below normal temperatures and snow. The Almanac's forecast for last week was "Dec 10-14: Snowstorm, then snow showers, cold". That one did not work out too well (not that I am complaining). The Farmer's Almanac doesn't do El Nino, it does sunspots.

This all does not mean we will get no snow this winter. One forecast I read stated that conditions could be right for nor' easters to develop starting in January. We can have a milder winter and still get snow. Water will freeze just as well at 30 degrees as it can at 10 degrees.

My completely scientific long-range winter forecast is that we will not have as much snow this winter for the simple reason that I plunked down a good chunk of cash at Boston Lawnmower for a kick-butt 20 h.p. snow blower last fall. I think there is a Murphy's Law corollary about an inverse relationship between the amount you spend on a snow blower and the number of winter storms. If that turns out to be correct, you can all thank me next spring.

On to more serious matters.

Last week in Paris, France, the heads of state from almost every major country on the planet were meeting in an attempt to hammer out an agreement on limiting and then reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases, mostly carbon dioxide, in an attempt to stem and perhaps reverse global warming.

(As an aside, I have to say that if global warming is a hoax, why is this meeting even happening? Man, if this is a hoax, it makes the 1947 Roswell UFO incident look like a toddler's chunky book).

Will anything meaningful come out of this conference? I doubt it.

Even though the US and Europe are no longer the biggest emitters of CO2, the US and Europe, mostly England, are, historically, the two countries who have contributed the most to the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere today.

The countries who have contributed the least are the ones who are 1) the most likely to suffer from global warming and 2) the ones being asked to not use fossil fuels to grow their economies to get to the first world lifestyle you and I enjoy because of those fuels. These underdeveloped or developing countries would want heavy subsidies to develop green energy programs from the rich western countries who caused most of the problem and I don't think that's going to happen.

Regardless of what comes out of Paris, something interesting did happen this year regarding our ever increasing carbon emissions - they slowed and may even have decreased. This is happening despite the fact that 2015 was a year of economic growth of about 3% overall, so one would expect that emissions would increase. Despite record low prices for oil, the growth in petroleum use has also slowed. This kind of result can only happen if people are using less energy.

That is pretty amazing.

In the meantime, 2015 is going to go end up as the warmest year since instrumental records started being kept in the middle 1800s, beating the last 10 warmest years on record, all of which have occurred since 1998 (the year global warming supposedly "stopped"). The previous record was 2014, which beat 2010, which beat 2005. You can get the data here:

Anyone who tells you that global warming stopped over the last 15 or 17 or 20 years is blowing smoke where the sun don't shine, if you get my drift.

Originally published in the Westborough News on 12/18/2016

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