Monday, March 31, 2008


During the final week of the month of March, lambs started to fill the sheep barn, but the weather remained largely lionish – cold and windy.

When I made my first visits to Howell in February, New Jersey was undergoing what I described at the time as an "unseasonably warm winter." The ice harvest was stymied because there was only an inch of ice on the pond, and the maple syrup season looked as if it might be a dud because it was getting too warm too quickly.

The journalistic wheels in my head were already turning. If the pattern of warm springs this part of the country had experienced over the past five years continued, I might end up with an interesting angle – how would an old-time farm that grows crops in an old-time way be affected by the brand new reality of global warming?

But since that February 9th post, something different happened: It stayed relatively cold.

I wouldn't say the cool weather New Jersey experienced during the second half of February and most of March was extreme, but it felt cold in comparison to the coming warmth I'd imagined in my head. Here's some data I dug up for my native 08822 Zip Code:

-Number of days in February on which the high temperature reached 65 degrees Fahrenheit, my unscientific threshold for what I consider to be a comfortable spring day: 2 (Feb. 6 and Feb. 18).

-Number of days in March on which the high temperature reached 65 degrees Fahrenheit: 0

-During the final 15 days of March, only two days topped 55 degrees.

-The rest of the country has been experiencing a cold March as well (and a frigid winter overall). In comparison, March 2007 nationwide was the second warmest on record.

So what's happening here? Is global warming receding, exposed as the hoax conservative talk radio knows it to be?

Not likely. One climate blog I read regularly,, has several posts on the subject:

The basic theory on this year's cooling, if you don't want to do all the reading yourself, is this:

"The cooling trend through the year was due to the strengthening La Nina, and the unusual coolness in January was aided by a winter weather fluctuation."

If you enjoy conspiracy theories, there's another explanation you might find intriguing. Google the word "chemtrails" and you'll find thousands of links proposing a theory that the U.S. government is already engaging in climate modification tests – using jet contrails to seed the atmosphere with particles that reflect sunlight and cool the Earth. I haven't seen any evidence that makes me think this is true. But it doesn't strike me as totally implausible that secret attempts to geoengineer away the global warming problem are already being experimented with.

Here's a news report that summarizes the conspiracy theory: