Lilacs blooming for Mother’s Day

used to be normal. This year, because of the unusually cold winter, that’s what they’re doing, but most years lilacs now bloom in this area around the third week in April. That’s a huge change that’s happened over no more than the past thirty years. Climate change is real, as a new report, the National Climate Assessment, makes clear. Here’s today’s lead in the NY Times, summarizing the findings, and here’s a link to the report itself.

In case you don’t think climate change will affect you personally, here are just a few possible effects: more insect pests such as mosquitoes and tree-killing borers and beetles as increasingly mild winters fail to keep populations down; more insect-borne disease; more major storms that knock down trees and cause extensive and expensive flooding; more invasive plants, as destructive species such as miscanthus grass (already invasive in the southern states) and kudzu move north; more flooding as the sea level continues its inexorable rise; more expensive food as drought tightens its hold on major agricultural areas.

Don’t be fooled by this year’s unusually cold winter. That’s just one year. More important are the trends, which are harder for us humans to see (until we remember that lilacs bloomed for Mother’s Day when we were kids). According to the Times article, “over the past half-century, the proportion of precipitation that is falling in very heavy rain events has jumped by 71 percent in the Northeast.”  More storms, more damage, more destruction.

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