Occasionally, I find myself in a conversation with a stranger or an acquaintance, cringing as I catch myself mindlessly talking about the weather. While in ag circles discussion of the weather bears great importance, in my day-to-day life it is my go-to filler for awkward silences or used to transition into friendly chitchat. This being said, sitting at my desk in Fort Atkinson, WI, writing my column on Jan. 31, I am compelled to talk about the weather. Outside, the sun is shining and it is 50 degrees. To clarify, as not to make assumptions about the reader’s understanding of an upper Midwestern winter, this is highly abnormal.
Trust me, I’m not complaining — and I’ll go as far as to mention that I don’t have strong feelings on the subject one way or another — but I can see where proponents of the global warming theory are drawing convincing empirical data. The Internet was abuzz this week after the Wall Street Journal ran the op-ed titled, “No Need to Panic About Global Warming,” complimented by a subhead reading, “There’s no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to ‘decarbonize’ the world’s economy.”
The opinion piece, “signed” by 16 scientists, argues the world does not need any wide-sweeping regulations, i.e., “drastic actions,” to combat global warming. Citing an email from climate scientist Kevin Trenberth, one referred to as the “Climategate” email, as the definitive beacon of truth on the matter: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”
The cyclical, predictable nature of climate changes is the foundation of the work of Dr. Elwynn Taylor, professor of ag meteorology at Iowa State University in Ames, IA. In his presentation at NGFA’s 40th Annual Country Elevator Conference, Taylor notes today’s seemingly extraordinary temperatures are nothing more than typical extremes when compared to the temperatures of other La Niña years in the 1950s and 1970s.
“It may suddenly shift again when it’s influenced by El Niño,” Taylor notes, referring to the patterns of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), that in conjunction with El Niño or La Niña, is responsible for 50% of climate variability on the Earth. (Source: NASA Earth Observatory)
Thanks to this presentation, I can drop a little scientific data into my weather-centric banter.
If you’re curious about the work of Elwynn Taylor and his observations about how the weather is impacting agriculture and yields, follow him on Twitter @ElwynnTaylor.