Why They Call It “Global” Warming

In Greenland, reports the Wall Street Journal [$], temperatures have warmed 2.7  degrees Fahrenheit in the last thirty years. This has been good for Greenland’s farmers and ranchers, even though (ironically) Greenlanders support the Kyoto Protocol, and–according to the story–frequently express concern about warming elsewhere. Still,

For Mr. Magnusson and his reindeer ranch, the longer grazing seasons mean fatter animals for slaughter, since reindeer gain about half a pound per day during the spring and summer grazing season. More abundant grasslands have prompted one farmer to buy cows for a government-funded experiment in dairy farming. A longer growing season allows crop farmers to expand their home gardens into commercial enterprises. Fishermen have begun catching tons of warm-water cod, after that fish’s long absence from the region.

"We have so many cold places in Greenland, and a lot of it is covered with ice," says Mr. Magnusson. "So we are grateful for those two extra degrees we get."

Greenland_areas_of_warming

In England, it’s a different story. The warming–which is breaking heat waves records this summer–

is not welcome. Besides the heat, the still-costly Wall Street Journal says that:

England is facing its worst drought in a century, according to the government’s Environment Agency. The extreme recent heat is exacerbating a shortage of water caused by two drier-than-normal winters that left the water supply low. The underwater reservoirs, or aquifers, that supply 70% of the southeast of England are, in some places, at a quarter of where they should be, local water companies say.

Emergency water restrictions across the southeast currently ban garden hoses, and, in some places, full swimming pools and ornamental fountains. Even the Buckingham Palace lawn is brown after the royal gardener stopped watering earlier this summer.

[cut]

Some, including [gardener] Mr. Stone and Mayor Livingstone [of London], partly blame global warming for drying up England. A spokesman for the Met Office, the country’s official weather forecaster, says two dry winters and a number of warmer summers are not conclusive proof of global warming. He notes, however, that these conditions are what the office would expect from climate change.

And in Peru, an iconic glacier is in full retreat, according to the Washington Post.

QUELCCAYA GLACIER, Peru — In the thin, cold air here atop the Andes mountains, the blue ice that has claimed these peaks for thousands of years and loyally fed the streams below is now disappearing rapidly.

Mountain glaciers such as this are in retreat around the Earth, taking with them vast stores of water that grow crops, generate electricity and sustain cities and rural areas.

Farmers here say that over the past two decades they have noticed a dramatic decrease in the amount of ice and snow on their mountaintops. The steady supply of water they need to grow crops has become erratic.

"There is less water now. If there is no water, this land becomes a desert," said Benedicto Loayza, a 52-year-old farmer, standing under pear trees fed by channels dug on the mountain centuries ago to collect runoff.

But "There’s no global warming," as one friend put it dryly at a party this evening. "No, no, no global warming," everyone agreed vociferously.

I listen amused to the sarcasm and cannot help but think again in amazement and wonder back to  Peggy Noonan’s wide-eyed question from a column in the Wall Street Journal a week ago: Is global warming real or not?

Does she read the papers? Does she even read her own newspaper? How can a person step up to a pulpit that big and write to thousands upon thousands of readers in such complete ignorance?

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