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Global Warming Diverts Research

Readers must be forewarned that this is written with my farmer hat on. My academic and professional credentials are in agriculture and specifically soil science. But I have followed with considerable concern the rise of the Global Warming Empire. It now seems that almost all research that gets funded in agriculture or environment must manufacture some way to relate it to the global warming “crisis.”

That the climate of Mother Earth is changing is without question. It has been changing for four billion years and will continue to do so. A mere 20,000 years ago the spot I am sitting on was covered by a mile or more of ice — a moving dynamic body of ice that shaped the landscapes we now farm. Some acts of Mother Nature must have come along to effect a lot of warming to melt all that ice. And all that without the benefit of fossil fuel burning, tar sands projects or anything else from the hand of mankind. When the ice melted and the grass grew, millions of buffalo belched and blew their way around our Prairies. Why that is any different than our cattle beasts is a huge mystery to this old fossil.

With Climategate becoming a household word, Copenhagen accomplishing no more than a box of snuff, and with increasing evidence that the past 10 years have actually shown a cooling trend, maybe the wheels are falling off the global warming wagon. As the U. K. and Europe experience their first real winter in a while, many are asking what happened to global warming? High-priced help from the east have told us for several years now that the Prairies are in for a super hot summer — yet very cool July temperatures have saved our bacon (or at least our canola) for the past two years.

My Professor of Climatology at U. of S. eons ago said that to track climate, one needs a 30-year average — any less is just weather fluctuations. I have been trying to obtain raw data for Prairie stations with monthly average temperatures on 30-year moving averages. I’ve had little success. So I took the Swift Current Agriculture and AgriFood Canada research station data from Environment Canada’s website and did it myself.

I produced graphs for each month. January, April, July and October are attached to this article. On the graphs, the 30-year-average for 1886 to 1915 is plotted as 1915, the 30-year-average of 1887 to 1916 is plotted as 1916, and so on. Readers can draw their own conclusion, but what I see is huge fluctuation in January, February and March with a very clear trend to a temperature increase from about 1970 to the present — although January has just recently exceeded the circa-1946 maximum. April has almost returned to its 1915 maximum. The crop growing months of May through September show little change. July has been cooler, if anything, in the past 30 or so years.

Thanks to Donna Fleury of

Here are graphs I made based on 30-year-average temperatures for Swift Current, Sask. They start in 1915 and go up to 2005. As you can see, January is trending warmer (as are February and March), so is April, but July and October are cooler than in 1915.

Edu Transfer Design Associates Inc., near Calgary, and Andy Bootsma (retired AAFC scientist from Ottawa), I now have data of 10-year average crop heat unit (CHU) temperatures for many Prairie stations.* Most of the stations have data starting 1897-1906 but some start 1907-1916. For most of the stations, the warming that has taken place had happened by about 1927 or 1937. From 1936 to about 1986, most curves were quite flat. From 1986 to present, Swift Current, Winnipeg and Regina have shown increases in CHU. Indian Head, Sask., Gleichen, Alta., Brandon, Man., and Sprague, Man., have shown decreases in CHU, but Bootsma attributes that decline to problems with data.

So, there you have it — another look and a contrarian view of the global warming topic. As Alf Bryan always said, I may be wrong but… there it is.

*Reference to CHU data: Jan 19,2009. A. Bootsma , AAFC (retired) Ottawa. Decadal trends in Crop Heat Units (CHU) in the Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba)

J. L. (Les) Henry is a former professor and extension specialist at the University of Saskatchewan. He farms near Dundurn, Sask.

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Les Henry

J.L.(Les) Henry is a former professor and extension specialist at the University of Saskatchewan. He farms at Dundurn, Sask. He recently finished a second printing of “Henry’s Handbook of Soil and Water,” a book that mixes the basics and practical aspects of soil, fertilizer and farming. Les will cover the shipping and GST for “Grainews” readers. Simply send a cheque for $50 to Henry Perspectives, 143 Tucker Cres., Saskatoon, Sask., S7H 3H7, and he will dispatch a signed book.

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