Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Extrapolating 200 Million Years

At last, we'll get a handle on this global warming issue with some hard data. Gardeners of America, start taking notes.

Project BudBurst needs your observations, to have some numbers to throw around at the skeptics. When, exactly did your serviceberry bloom this year? Can you keep a close eye on your swamp white oak?

Who better than the dedicated green thumb to observe plants and create a massive database for botanists to study? If plants pop earlier than usual.....what is usual, exactly?

In this modern world, usual is what happened last year or since you bought the house or since your father was a kid but who knows it's what he remembers anyway. That means, if your little apple tree bloomed a day earlier this year than last, it's global warming. If you noticed some plant sprouting in the middle of a January thaw, it's global warming.

Did an apple tree bloom a day earlier than usual, say, ten thousand years ago? One hundred thousand years ago? In Lombard, Illinois, home of the lilac festival, they've observed lilacs for twenty years. Using their data, and extrapolating out to the evolution of flowering plants, we can say with certainty that the statisticians are laughing their heads off. The margin of error expands to a point where no conclusion can be reliably drawn.

Go right ahead and keep track of the day that the shagbark hickory breaks bud. Keep at it for thousands of years, and you'll have some real data. Whatever day you have for this year means nothing in the overall scheme.

This year, my tomatoes are ripening a good two weeks later than they have for the past fifteen years. Can I declare it's an ice age coming?

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