Clothesline in Winter

Clothesline in Winter

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Global Weirding Comes to Good Hand Farm

Into every life a little rain must fall.  Or a little drought. Or a little cold snap.  Or a little record heat.

But recent years have been different around here, as they have been all over the world.  There was nothing to compare (so far) to last month, when 15,272 warm temperature records were broken in the U.S. alone.  Many of these affected us here at Good Hand Farm.  Our normal problem in spring is dealing with all the rain and mud, but not this year.  We’ve been running our irrigation pumps nonstop to deal with the hottest, driest spring (and winter) we’ve ever seen. 

And just when you think steady warmth is here for good – Bam! Freezing cold spells.

Frost-blighted asparagus at Good Hand
Despite this, today I ventured up to the asparagus field with high hopes.  Chef Tony from Salt Gastropub – a great neighborhood restaurant – wanted another 10 lbs., and I was sure we would have it for him.  But when I got there, my hopes were dashed:  Bare fields, punctuated by the occasional frost-blighted asparagus shoot.  Worthless. 

I called Tony back, feeling the need to apologize.  All I had was a couple handfuls of shoots suitable only for the chickens.

Just bad luck, perhaps?  Not at all.  We’ve suffered major losses in recent years from unprecedented extreme weather.  Last year, my investment group suffered badly when our hotel – located in the Northeast – suffered its second consecutive year of 100-year floods, damaging property and driving guests away for weeks. 

Nice hotel, if you can get there
We’ve watched with mixed feeling as Texas – home to an entire Congressional delegation of climate deniers – has sweltered and burned under the new normal for the U.S. Southwest.  By September, 213 Texas counties (almost all of them) were USDA disasters; forty-one straight days saw 100-plus heat; and agricultural losses came to $5.2 billion at my last count. Texas wildfires last year alone burned an area the size of Connecticut.  This didn’t persuade a single Texas lawmaker to seriously deal with climate change, as all of them are awash in oil money (check here to find yours).

But ordinary people are beginning – I think – to connect the dots. No amount of oil and coal advertising can blind an entire country to what’s happening outside.  They’re watching ExxonMobil, “Clean” Coal or Vote4Energy tell them that all we need to do is find more fossil fuels and burn them into God’s precious atmosphere, but they’re noticing the extreme heat, floods, droughts and unpredictable weather. They’re realizing it’s not just “warming,” but “weirding.”  It’s broiling when it should be cool; rains fail entirely, until they come with a vengeance and destroy crops, fields, and property. Gardeners know that plant hardiness zones move pole-ward twenty miles per year.  But that doesn’t stop freak cold snaps from destroying early seedlings – or Chef Tony’s asparagus delivery.
Look hard: Can you find any asparagus in our normally-productive field?
So give us a couple of days, and we’ll do our best to fulfill our commitments to our produce customers.  But in this age of “global wierding,” it’s harder all the time.

Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.

J. Elwood

Check out this great video explaining why the weather is both hotter and colder, dryer and more prone to flooding  – generally more extreme – over so much of God’s good earth.


  1. Not a comment on this post, but something I just read on, a Dutch news website.
    In an article it's stated that the decrease of sulphur compounds in the air, (so, cleaner air) in the eastern States of the USA increases the warming effect on the climate.
    Sulphur compounds should decrease: acid rain for example.
    But sulphur compounds in the air have a short term cooling effect. Sulphur compounds don't stay long.
    CO2 on the other hand stays in the air for hundreds of years.
    The effect on the eastern states, with a faster rise in temperature now, has to do with the western winds in those states.
    The same can be seen in Europe.
    This information comes from Harvard researchers, and has been published in the magazine: Atmospheric chemistry and physics.
    So it should be known in the States too.

    1. Tineke: You are right. This is well understood, and not controversial. Sulfate aerosols, and nitrates, have a cooling effect on climate, and soot has a warming effect. These have fluctuated over time with volcanic action, and with industrial pollution.

      As the entire earth and the oceans heat up, local effects are influenced by these factors. It will be interesting to see, for example, what happens to China's great cities when they finally address their air pollution binge. With both soot and sulfates decreasing, I wonder whether they will warm faster, or cool a bit?