Going On The Account: Blogtober – Seeds of Doom

This is the twenty first entry in the Blogtober self-flagellation exercise; maybe I should be glad I never got that journalism career, the way the carping’s coming hard and fast here…

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Speaking of distressing things, there was an article at io9 that directed me to this older piece from Nature that makes an interesting claim:  That for every rise of the mean temperature by one degree Fahrenheit, we can expect a species’ geographic range to extend northward by fifty miles.   Thus, if the average temp goes up ten degrees, we should expect species that are at home five hundred miles to the south of us to be quite comfortable in the New York area.

Of course, if the temperatures go up over that ten degree mark, we could be seeing so radical a die-off from the extreme conditions that the rest of this discussion is rendered meaningless, so let’s stick to this as our upper limit, shall we…?

Now, for the sake of visualization, as you can see on the map provided here, 500 miles to the south of New York would put you in the center of Wilmington, NC, a place we considered a little while ago.  Which means that should we see radical climate shift, that the great outdoors here would look much like they do down there now.

And of all the species that would be getting some southern hospitality here, the one we have to fear most has no fangs or claws…

The kudzu plant, a decorative vine imported from Japan that became an invasive species in the US, would feel quite at home here.  Compare the 500-mile radus map linked above with this map of kudzu’s infestation area, and you can see that the New York area could soon disappear under a sheet of green the same way areas near Atlanta and Mobile have.  And this assumes that the plant hasn’t adapted for here yet; one sighting in Albany was noted in 2006, and some areas north of the city have been observed to be overgrown during the warmer months.

In addition to the issues with overgrowth taking out the native plants, there’s the problem of kudzu being a major source of surface ozone pollution, which can increase the rate of global warming as well as being a direct health threat itself.  Which means it will not only bake you and choke your garden, it’ll destroy your lungs; lovely stuff, kudzu…

Sometimes, the threats you need to pay the most attention to are the ones you don’t hear…

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Speaking of threats, if you’re looking for further detailed examination of the world our children will know better, you’re in luck.  The World Bank just released their climate change report, detailing the changes they envisaged for a world that is four degrees Celsius warmer on average, the same scenario I run with.  Theirs is a bit more  precise and covers a wide number of factors affecting areas beyond Western New York; in all fairness, they have a bigger staff…

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2 Comments

Filed under Fiction

2 responses to “Going On The Account: Blogtober – Seeds of Doom

  1. The kudzo plant reminds me of a creepy short story I read in high school where a man was adrift in a boat in the Sargasso Sea that was overgrown with fast-growing algae. The photos in the article you mentioned looked like green people where the kudzo plant had engulfed them. Scary!

    As for the global warming stuff, I’m not saying it isn’t happening. It is, but I feel it’s mainly because we’re still emerging from an ice age. Weather also has cycles, warmer years followed by colder ones. Not that long ago we had record lows during January, when the temperature stayed fairly steady at -30 for most of the month. We also had larger than normal snowfall, resulting in spring flooding. Despite all that, the ice caps are melting and weird weather systems are creating havoc. I do wonder, though, what the world was like before the last ice age and how long that warming trend lasted before the cold set in again. I should go look it up… 🙂

  2. Near as I recall, the last period of recorded history that tracked weather with some diligence pre-freeze would have been the years before the “Little Ice Age” that happened between 1350 and 1850, give or take, supposedly. It might be worth looking at what the weather was like around the time of the Battle of Hastings through the High Middle Ages for that answer:

    Truth to tell, climatology is a funny thing; just when you think you figured it out, something you never expected happens, and by the time you think you debugged that, something new has been added. Anyone watching the weather forecasters fumble because they were trying to predict around a huge weather influencer (i.e., Lake Erie) can feel lots of sympathy for scientists trying to do climate models these days, especially with the new discoveries continually being found…

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