Year 4, Month 11, Day 14: Since You’ve Been Gone

The Pittsburgh Journal-Gazette, on autumn foliage:

Unusually warm October weather and less September rain explain why leaves failed to produce brilliant splashes of gold, orange, red and purple, with many remaining green into the first week of November.

It also raises the spectre of climate change.

Every year has seasonal variations, but some scientists say this year may be a harbinger of a more likely occurrence in coming years — warmer temperatures pushing back the peak foliage season from the third week of October to later in the month or even early November. Such a trend also forebodes duller leaf coloration.

Warmer fall temperatures and resulting duller leaves also signal that local tree species, including sugar maples, will begin migrating northward with other plant and animal species, in search of ideal climate. More extreme temperatures, storms and droughts are anticipated.

“This is precisely the sort of thing we expect to happen,” said Penn State University climatologist Michael E. Mann. “Fall comes later, spring gets earlier and summer gets hotter. NASA just reported that the globe just saw the warmest September ever.”

In coming decades, he said, extreme weather conditions and warmer autumns “will become the new normal.”

The comments on this article are pretty depressing. November 4:

Colorful autumn leaves are one of the most visible and celebrated markers for the yearly change of season, a recurring transformation that’s been a steady feature of our lives for countless generations. But there are cycles and shifts happening on timescales far larger than our own, and the diminished hues of fall foliage should remind us of a different sort of shift that is now underway.

Since the development of agriculture at the dawn of civilization, humans have made steadily more significant impacts on the world we live in. Now, thanks to industrialization’s century-long carbon binge, we’ve initiated a chain of climatic events which are ushering in not a new season but a new epoch: the end of the Holocene and the beginning of the Anthropocene.

The die is cast; there is no turning back from this grim future any more than we can wish away the frosts of November. What we must do is prepare ourselves for the totally different world which is emerging — one which evidence suggests will be far less hospitable to us and our posterity.

Warren Senders

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