The Last Windrow: Climate change - Something is going on
I don't know if any of you have bought into the theory (some would say it isn't a theory any longer) of climate change and global warming. From my un-scientific perspective, I think something is going on.
An area in South Dakota where my column is published just experienced a terrible hail and wind storm. I receive the newspaper from that area and this past week's front page carried a picture of a huge, upturned tree, roots pointing high in the sky and broken limbs adorning the earth surrounding.
From the article I read that the crops in that area south of Watertown have been destroyed and there are many buildings that have sustained brutal damage. The ballfield was dealt a terrific blow, putting the Fourth of July Little League tournament in jeopardy.
In my own experience, a resort property my parents purchased in 1969 on Pelican Lake in Crow Wing County sustained three insurance claims in July of 2016. Large white pines and Norway pines were toppled and holes were put in the roof of their house.
Many of the trees had been planted when the resort was started in the mid-1920s. They had attained great height and measured two to three feet in diameter. Last summer's storms took their toll on trees that had stood for nearly 100 years.
Over the 40 years that we have owned that property nary a tree was blown over. In two years we have lost nearly half of the mature trees on that property.
Hail also paid a visit last summer with hail the honest size of grapefruit piled on the lawn. I grew up in northwest Iowa where hailstorms were a part of life, but never have I ever witnessed hailstones the size of grapefruit in Minnesota. I did last summer.
The roofing on the house was perforated. Siding was peeled and the roads looked like it snowed green flakes. The smell resembled freshly cut silage for any of you who have experienced that smell.
Politicians are arguing whether to believe or not to believe the global warming theories. It has been proven that the ice caps are in a stage of retreat and sea levels are rising.
My wife, daughter and I traveled up the Canadian highway north of Banff, Alberta, a number of years ago. We made a stop at the Columbia glacier on that trip. It was amazing to see how much that huge piece of ice had retreated over the past 50 years. The leading edge of the glacier was a full mile from the highway that it used to block.
Seeing that gave me a funny feeling in my stomach.
No doubt, global warming has occurred before. Scientists are now digging up the carcasses of mastodons that perished in the mud centuries ago. Since their demise the climate turned cold and they are now being thawed out of permafrost that used to be actual permafrost.
It takes warmer weather to produce those carcasses. I hear they may try to revive the mastodons by using the DNA of these long past hairy beasts to recreate their kind.
While in Alberta, we toured the dinosaur park near Brooks. The land resembled our own Dakota badlands. In the dry and dusty gullies and breaks of the park archaeologists were digging out fossils of snails, giant lizards and water-loving dinosaurs. The shale revealed giant ferns and other plant life that could only have existed in a jungle environment.
Something had definitely taken place here over the eons and it wasn't caused by man, but from natural occurrences. Humans had yet to make an appearance across the landscape.
So here we are, debating whether climate change is real and discussing global warming. One thing I know for sure is that over the past several years trees that stood on the shores of Pelican Lake for almost 100 years are now being used for kindling. The holes in our roof caused by hailstones the size of grapefruit are now patched. The farmers in east central South Dakota are figuring out how they can get a crop off the land that has been leveled by severe hail and wind just last week. And, so it goes.
I think something is going on.
See you next time. Okay?