Over the Hill

Signs of warming are growing

Special to The TribuneMay 16, 2013 

I was watering my tomato plants Wednesday when I noticed blossoms. One plant had two, and the other had two and a bud. It seemed early for tomato blossoms. “Aha’’ I thought, “It must be global warming.”

I wish I were one of those systematic gardeners who keep diaries, recording the dates when crops were planted and fertilized, and when they blossomed. But I do write down the amounts of rain I find in my rain gauge.

So far during the current rainy season (July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013) my rain gauge has caught only 4.42 inches of rain. But my gauge is an amateur instrument, and I probably don’t shield it properly from nearby trees and other influences.

So, I also checked the Paso Robles Water Department’s rainfall records on the Internet. They showed a total through May 15 of 7.18 inches. That’s 2.76 inches more than my total, but the discrepancy wasn’t entirely due to my ineptness. The city rain gauge is west of the Salinas River where noticeably more rain falls than east of the river where I live.

That 7.18 inches is probably all the rain we’ll get this season because almost no rain falls in June. So it seems reasonable to compare that total with the previous, full-season totals.

They go back to 1942 when the records began. Only two of them were lower than 7.18.

One was 6.24 inches for the 2006-07 season. The other was 5.34 inches in 1975-76. They don’t do much to help me prove the existence of global warming.

But how about those three 100-degree days in Paso this past weekend: 101 on Saturday; 101 on Sunday; and 100 on Monday. That sounds like global warming.

The Weather Channel says the average high temperature in May in Paso Robles is 80 degrees. It says our highest May temperature was 104 in 2008. It also says our overall highest temperature was 117 in August 1933, which doesn’t exactly clinch my case for the existence of global warming.

It’s hard to notice global warming in Paso Robles, which has always had hot summers. Also, the city sits on hot mineral springs. And the Salinas River, which flows through it, goes underground every summer. The city’s unofficial slogan is, “But it’s dry heat.”

To prove global warming I’d have to go to Greenland or Antarctica where billions of tons of ice melt into the ocean each year and raise the world’s sea levels. That leads to disasters like the one last year in New York City and New Jersey.

But, even if global warming weren’t real, reducing air pollution would still be a real benefit for all of us.

Phil Dirkx’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach Dirkx at 238-2372 or phild2008@sbcglobal.net.

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