Bring the Heat

Spring                                                         Hare Moon

Spring and I met up this year in Seminole, Texas, Gaines County: #1 in Cotton, #1 in oil and #1 in peanuts.  When we began our Intensive Journal workshop here in Tucson, the leader noted that it was the beginning of spring, a time of birth and rebirth.  Yes.

Today, for the first time since I left Minnesota, I’m not pressed by travel and can reflect on the new season.  This is the culmination of Imbolc, those lambs in the belly (imbolc) now gambol on the green.  Or on the snow covered fields in the case of Minnesota.

And that’s a good thing to note.  Spring comes astronomically when the sun’s center lines up with the earth’s equator.  It come meteorologically with a nuance determined by your latitude.  At Minnesota’s 45th latitude, half-way from that equator to the north pole, meteorological spring comes when the bloodroot blooms. (at least one naturalist I asked defined the coming of spring that way.)  That could be well into April some years.

On the other hand, here in Tucson 32 degrees of latitude from the equator spring announces the upcoming dry season, aggravated this year by a persistent drought that has many southwestern parts of the U.S. facing another season of extreme wildfire danger.

In Manta, Ecuador which Kate and I visited in October of 2011 the equinox means the sun stares straight at you.  It was hot when we were there, only a couple of weeks after the spring equinox (which comes in September in the southern hemisphere).

At Artemis Hives and Gardens it arrived with a couple of feet or so of snow on the ground.  That means the activities of working the soil, planting the early crops will not come until well into April.  But the shift in the earth’s relationship to the sun does mean that the solar gain per square meter of ground has taken strong purchase and will one day warm even the soil.

That’s the true promise of spring. It brings heat.  Where the temperatures are moderate, this is a boon for agriculture.  Where temperatures are already hot, spring can exacerbate them.

As the heat begins to change the weather, I look forward to seeing more and more of our land.


The Ballet of Earth and The Heavens

Imbolc                                                                 Hare Moon

On the day we got 11 inches of snow I looked out the kitchen window into the orchard. The fruit trees had snow lining their branches, the hay bales and the wheelbarrow cum garden sculpture had disappeared and the snow climbed halfway up the tree trunks.  The tall cottonwoods and cedars, beyond the orchard to the west, also had snow outlining their canopies.

Behind them the sky was a bright blue, a happy color, celebrating the freshening of the landscape.

Then, from behind the cottonwood flew a murder of crows.  Blue, black, white.  Sky, crows, snow.  A moment in time, ephemeral like music.  Dancing the ballet of earth and the heavens were the dark birds.

The Evolution of Great Wheel

Imbolc                                                     Hare Moon

If you’re reading this website, count yourself among a select few.  Over the course of March and April, perhaps May and most of June until June 21st, the summer solstice, Great Wheel will be undergoing a redevelopment.  It will still have the calendar/Great Wheel flavor to it, but its focus will be Minnesota.

Both the campaign to lower carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) and a parallel but very different campaign to adapt to the amount of climate change already baked into the climate system will have distinctive Minnesota components.

Mitigation lies largely in the realm of government policy and regulation, so it has a strong political element, though hopefully it will not be partisan as climate warming and other changes progress.  Adaptation is regional and local, so adaptive strategies for the Arrowhead will be different than those for Marshall and southwestern Minnesota. Local means just that, as far down the local scale as individual homes and vehicles, but probably focusing on municipalities and counties.

I want to test with several of my environmental community friends and co-workers how a news and information resource might look.  What kind of resources will facilitate regional assessments? What will aid the application of those regional assessments to local policy?

I will be recruiting bloggers.  Someone will follow climate science as it applies to Minnesota. This may be local climate scientists working in the state or national scientists whose work includes Minnesota.  Others will focus on such matters as clarifying and publicizing state green house gas emission goals and and goals for energy transition.  We will monitor state progress on all issues related to climate change.  The metro area and its counties will need special attention though we’ll look in broad stroke at all regions in the state.

Their will also be a focus on energy efficiency in the home and on the road and at work. Someone else will write about the transition to a green energy economy.

I’ll want a book reviewer, someone to find relevant scientific literature and in particular I want someone who will help me develop a dashboard of indicators for state and local efforts.  There will be live camera feeds on areas affected most by climate change and an attempt to encourage true cost accounting.


So, there’s a lot to do.  I’ll also need to recruit a small board of directors.  All stuff I can do.

Look forward to hearing your ideas.

In Case Minnesota Cold Has You Wondering About Climate Change

Imbolc                                                       Valentine Moon

In case you have lingering doubts about climate change, listen to the portion of this lecture by former Scripps Institute Director, Professor Charles Kennel that begins at approx. 7:20.  I post this because it is -14 this morning on the next to last day of February when our normal temperatures would be 33/18.

Looking at Minnesota

Imbolc                                                                       Valentine Moon

The climate change course has used professors from UC San Diego and the Scripps state lineInstitute so it has a distinct California bias.  Which is a good thing.  The benefit of close co-operation among government, academic and corporate interests becomes obvious when reading the three climate adaptation documents the state has produced since 2006.

When I look at the Minnesota equivalents, we have a 2013 climate adaptation plan but it lists only government agencies as actors.  While this is, of course, necessary and good, it is not sufficient.  The policy makers need to have a continuing base of scientific analysis since the data useful for adaptation will change constantly and needs to be calibrated at local geographic and political levels.  In addition, the corporate and business community must be involved, too, since the plans for adaptation will be only useful in so far as they can produce action.  The probability of action increases when major stakeholders have a role in the planning and decision making.

In other words scientists at the U and in other Minnesota colleges and universities, plus those in the various federal agencies at work in Minnesota, need to form a high level action team to create ongoing climate adaptation analysis.  If this exists, my current research has not located it.

The corporate and business elements will suffer when the climate changes, too, and their input is necessary.  Just how best to involve them, I don’t know.

This is an ongoing learning curve for me.  That is, just where is Minnesota in planning for climate change?