Never underestimate the power, or the fragility of nature.
Life on earth exists within a relatively narrow band of temperatures; a few degrees change either way may spell disaster in some parts of the world, and eventually all parts of it.
It’s certainly not the end of the world, yet, in our part of southern Ontario, Canada; but the impact of global warming and climate change is clearly being felt, apparently in the form of an unseasonably late, cool spring and, therefore, planting season again this year.
At this rate I’ll be lucky again to get warm-season crops like sweet corn, tomatoes, bush beans and squash planted by the first week of June. The old, previously dependable normal even here on the Bruce Peninsula would be at least two weeks earlier.
A late corn planting is the biggest concern, because growing sweet corn this far north was always a tight squeeze to get the corn in the ground early enough, and then enough heat units through the growing season to have corn to pick and sell by late August, at least; that’s to have any chance of getting in on the corn-season, market demand, when people are hankering to eat their fill of fresh-picked sweet corn. But by the end of August they’re pretty well “corned out,” as I’ve been known to say.
I have planted corn as early as mid-May, and picked it by mid-August. But last year I had to wait until the first week of June; and then after an unusually cool summer, didn’t start picking until the first week of September. That was a variety rated at 70 days to maturity, under normally good weather conditions.
Part of the reason I had to hold off is I plant corn seed untreated with chemical fungicide designed to prevent the seed from rotting in cool soil. I do this for the sake of the environment, especially bees and other pollinators who are seriously endangered by the widespread use of neonicontinoid fungicides.
This post is prompted by the daily prompt, “underestimate.” It’s also prompted by a weather report I heard this morning, including the possibility of snow flurries in our area. It is May 14. I can only shake my head.
Why even bother planting corn or perhaps a lot of other things, I ask myself. The simple answer is I love growing corn, even if it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense under these circumstances.
So what’s going on?
Global warming and resulting climate change is a complex issue. “Climate change” tends now to be the terminology more often used, though global warming is the root cause, because it doesn’t always result in warmer temperatures; it can, as in this area, result in climate change that brings quite the opposite.
The big change causing these abnormally cool conditions here this spring is the disruption in the Jet Stream caused by the most powerful “El Nino” effect so far ever recorded. And that’s caused by the overheating of waters in a large area of the eastern Pacific Ocean. El Nino has brought unusually hot, dry conditions to western North America. It is the root cause of wildfires as far north as the northern Alberta, including the Fort McMurray disaster.
Environment Canada’s current “Weather at a Glance (Jet Stream)” map above is the “picture that speaks a thousand words.”
Another factor now just starting to be understood as contributing to the climate change situation over North America is the continued melting of the Arctic Ocean, and the impact that is having on the melting of the vast Greenland glacier, at a much faster rate than predicted some years ago.
Look at that Jet Stream map again and you will see parts of Greenland are as warm as southern Ontario.
There is enough frozen water on the Greenland land-mass to raise ocean levels to disastrous levels for coastal and island communities the world over.
Meanwhile, world leaders continue to twiddle their thumbs regarding the urgent need to do something substantial and enforceable about climate change, if it isn’t already too late.
And now here’s a comment that’s bound to upset a lot of people in Alberta, Newfoundland, and the rest of Canada: Fort McMurray was a gigantic red flag. The tar sands, and their production of the dirtiest oil in the world, needs to be shut down.
By all means, rebuild Fort McMurray; but turn it into Canada’s centre and focal point of research and development into a new, environmentally-sustainable energy paradigm. Invest big-time in that future. What a significant and hopeful act that would be, for Canada and the world.
But who am I?
I’m Just an old geezer who loves to grow corn and can remember a time not that long ago when it was possible, and even profitable, here on the 45th Parallel in Ontario.