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The Tomahawk Leader is a state and national prize-winning weekly newspaper serving the scenic Northwoods area in and around Tomahawk, WI.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 6:41 pm 
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The following is Publisher Larry Tobin's Ups-n-Downs column which appears in the Sept. 19, 2006, Tomahawk Leader:

A major story in USA Today last week (page 3) was headlined: “This was the hottest summer since 1936, report says.”

The story goes on to say…That’s likely the result of long-term warming trends and unusual weather patterns that trapped hot air over much of the country this summer, said Jay Lawrimore, chief of the data center’s Climate Monitoring Branch. “It’s not unprecedented, but the trend is definitely toward warmer weather,” he said.

Note the key phrase, “it’s not unprecedented.” No one has yet attempted to explain what caused the record high temperatures in 1936. That year, by the way, was the hottest since records of temperatures were recorded annually beginning in 1895.

The newspaper item also contained a statistical column listing the 10 warmest years on record. It’s amazing to me that five of the 10 warmest years – HALF – were recorded within the decade of the 1930s. If ever there was a trend that might indicate a change in weather patterns, I would think that would be it. Instead, we see five warm years in the last 18 – scattered between 1988 and 2006 – and it’s suddenly Global Warming.

What happened during those 50-70 years in between the record trends? Remember the 60 degrees below zero that we had about 10 years or so ago?

The warm weather could continue this winter in northern and western USA because El Nino has returned according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. El Nino, a Pacific Ocean warming pattern that alters weather systems worldwide, will also make the Gulf Coast and Florida wetter than normal this winter and the Ohio Valley and Pacific Northwest drier.

The weak El Nino also helps explain why this year’s Atlantic hurricane season has been less severe than expected, the organization notes.

Tell me something. When was the last time you saw a weather forecast for five days in advance that was accurate? Half the time they can’t even tell you what the weather will be this afternoon with any degree of certainty. Picking trends for various parts of the country months in advance would seem pretty risky if I were a weatherman.

I’m sure that human activities do have an impact on the environment. Everything does. I’ve read of reports that cow flatulence creates methane problems in the atmosphere. Are these things we should be worried about? Concerned, yes. At least enough to keep working to improve things, just as we strive to improve highway safety, find a cure for cancer and the common cold, and solve world hunger.

But the sky is not falling, folks!

The whole thing reminds me of a story that appeared in a New York City newspaper in the early 1890s. It said that, at that current rate, the city would be six feet deep in horse manure by the turn of the century.

While there are some who might say that prediction came true (facetiously, of course), the invention of automobiles and electric streetcars changed the future in more ways than outmoded methods of transportation. Solving one problem, you might say, invented another.

Throughout history there have been documented floods, storms, earthquakes, droughts, and other catastrophes. I strongly suspect more will continue to occur. But, while temporary global warming made life agreeable for dinosaurs and an Ice Age created disaster for them, I don’t think any kind of man-made global warming is going to cause the world to end.


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