Of Snow, Global Warming, and Bears

AND now it’s snowing, and I’ve got the shoes to prove it. That’s the mud from yesterday’s marathon session on the outside of the clogs, and the snow from today on the inside. If you’re wondering why my shoes are outside rather than inside, then you didn’t read my last post. For shame.Garden_shoes_2

What’s up with your weather?

It appears that I’m not the only one seeing snow in May. Amy of High and Dry commented on my last post that snow’s only just giving way to rain for her. Of course, if you check the maps on Blotanical, you’ll find that she’s stuck herself way north in British Columbia, so what does she expect? (It looks to me as if she’s the furthest north of all on that garden forum.) (Being born there is no excuse.)

And truth to tell, snow in May, in Montana? It happens. (And I moved here on purpose, so I definitely have no excuse.)

But jodi DeLong (that’s how she writes her name folks, so take it up with her, not me) of bloomingwriter in Nova Scotia, one of the most temperate spots in Canada, started a post yesterday by asking plaintively, " Is anyone else having a May like this?" This, below a photo of flowers (primroses?) in the snow. (They look lovely.)

Even odder, a week ago or so I saw a comment by a blogger in Texas (I don’t remember who) exclaiming over their late, cold spring. Not to mention the horrific tornadoes in Missouri and Oklahoma. Aren’t they supposed to come in August?

It’s enough to make you wonder.

A guy I know here in Montana, fed up with April (and May) snow showers, claims he’s going to start a group called Montanans for global warming. He’s trying to get my goat, or course. I think I’ll join, to get his.

Of course, global warming might not "help" us anyway. That’s the weirdest thing about it, to my mind: it doesn’t just warm everything up. It plays havoc with the weather.

Melting ice in the Arctic might not only threaten polar bears, but also disrupt the Gulf Stream, the massive Atlantic current that sweeps north along North America, turns east, and flows south, warming Europe. If it’s disrupted, scientists predict colder weather in Europe.

Here in Montana, and up and down the Rockies, warmer winters mean that the pine beetle, Beetle_infestation_2006 which is killed off by the cold, is  laying waste to forests. When the trees die and decay, the carbon dioxide they’ve sequestered is released back into the atmosphere. The problem is most serious in Canada’s western province of British Columbia; so bad, it might worsen global warming. Beetle_infestation_2007 Talk about a tightening spiral: global warming leads to the death of trees, which worsens global warming. The top figure here (produced by Natural Resources Canada) shows the extent of the infestation in 2006; the bottom one (produced by Canada’s Ministry of Forest and Range) shows the situation one year later, in 2007. The unreadably tiny legend says that the gray area is "overrun."

Even closer to home–as close as my back yard–the pine beetle infestation means that bears can’t feed on the cones as they once could, so they’re more inclined to go into campgrounds and (yes) city streets. It’s very romantic to have had a mother bear and two cubs spend the night in our trees as they did a couple of autumns back, but it doesn’t bode well for bears, forests, or humans. (I was a little worried about one of my neighbors, too; more than slightly inebriated, he  wanted to shake the tree and call the bears down.)

Does anyone else see changes that might–for no one knows for sure–be caused by global warming?

5 Responses to Of Snow, Global Warming, and Bears

  1. Ah yes, I get what I deserve, don’t I? Though it has been an unusually late spring up here. We’re part of a microclimate – a narrow strip along either side of the mighty Fraser River. So, even though I’m pretty far north I’m in a warmer area than some outlying areas just outside that little strip.
    The pine beetle infestation is just devastating. If anyone wants to have a good cry, take a flight over the miles upon miles of dead pine forests. I’m surrounded by a very large swath of Douglas Fir, but it’s being attacked too (though this gets very little press, for now). The “epicentre” of the beetle problem is not far from where I live. People knew about it for years and years, and did nothing but hope a good old fashioned winter would come and kill the beetles – it never came.
    Sad to say, I’m not the furthest north on Blotanical, though I was very proud of that for a little while :) My new blogging friend Breanne in Prince George lives three hours north of me. I lived there for two years and even I, who have lived “north” most of my live, couldn’t stand to stay!

  2. Thanks for the input, Amy; when I looked at the maps I figured you’d be in the midst of the worst. One 2006 site I saw said they estimated that 50% of the lodgepole forests would be killed by 2008, and 80% by 2013. I haven’t seen anything that says whether those estimates are turning out to be accurate. It’s a disaster. I’m glad you’re creating a small oasis of loveliness and life in the midst of it.

  3. I’ve lived in Montana, Great Falls. My husband is retired AF. I’ve also lived in North Dakota and Colorado. But then I’ve lived in Arizona and Texas too. But I like home–North Carolina the best. I can feel what everyone is going through when they talk. I’ve been coast to coast and noone to boast.
    I like your poem above. And your blog is great. I enjoyed looking around. My clogs are parked outside too but that’s cause I got lots of leaf mulch and I keep tracking it inside.
    Nice to meet you and stop by my blog sometime—maybe you can warm up a bit down in our part of the woods. ;)

  4. Anna, thanks for stopping by. I just glanced around your blog quickly, and got swept up in the storm story. Twelve inches of hail? And those uprooted trees! And the airplanes! Sheesh. I’m glad you’re okay. Do you usually get tornadoes in May?
    –Kate

  5. Hey, I didn’t see where they got 12 inches of hail. That must have been West of us. It is true about the Airplanes and the houses being destroyed. Yes, we do get most of our tornadoes around this time of year and through the summer too. Most of our houses are built with some type of storm cellar or basement. Some years are worse than others.
    We don’t get many deaths from it though. Only one person was killed in this last one. We get plenty of warning. Most of the tornadoes only blow shingles off and cause minor damage. It’s about like the wind you deal with in a major blizzard.
    I was more scared living in ND and the tornadoes and Colorado with the lightening. Colorado had the worst lightening than any place I’ve ever lived.

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