Everybody Talks About the Weather…

The climate statistics for the first month of 2014 have been impressive. Extreme weather has lashed the United States from Alaska to Florida with record warmth, cold, dry and wet conditions all at the same time. The National Climatic Data Center reports that January of 2014 was the driest January on record for New Mexico, 2nd driest for Arizona and 3rd driest for California. January 2014 was also in the top ten of coldest Januaries on record for much of the upper Midwest.

Extreme drought conditions in the western U.S. are dramatically impacting water supplies critical to agriculture and elevating fire risk across our National Forests. Across the continent frequent cold waves have repeatedly threatened winter crops across the Southeast while frost depths reaching several feet will impact springtime planting across the Midwest. This kind of winter gets everyone talking about the weather. It brings to mind the quote “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it,” often attributed to Mark Twain (but apparently said by a friend).

What can we do about the weather? Not much directly, but we can plan and prepare for the worst and try our best to anticipate what is coming through forecasts. Our best climate science indicates that extreme weather is something we should get used to and learn how to work with. America’s agricultural systems and vast and precious natural resources are intimately tied to weather and climate and will need to further adapt to these extremes. This is where the newly created effort of organizing USDA resources and partners into Regional Climate Hubs plays a role, supporting farmers, ranchers and resource managers’ efforts to better manage risk in a changing climate.

There is a secret weapon in this effort, one that is a uniquely American invention. This weapon is equipped with 100 years’ experience in supporting agriculture and natural resources management through climate extremes like the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s all the way up to the Midwest floods of the early 1990’s and recent west-wide drought of the past decade. The Smith-Lever Act, signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson 100 years ago this year, created the U.S. Cooperative Extension System, a distributed network of local level experts connected to each state’s land grant university that work to connect science and decision making. This translates to a local level expert in almost every county that anyone can to turn to for ‘useful, practical and research based information’. Farmers, ranchers and resource managers will undoubtedly need new science and technology to adapt to a changing climate, but they will also simply need someone they trust of whom they can ask questions and learn about new opportunities…an ‘honest broker’ of cutting edge, research based information. Extension Agents and Specialists have served in this role for 100 years and as a key part of the USDA Regional Climate Hub effort are ready to help their clientele meet the emerging challenges of a changing climate.

I have spent the last decade in Arizona as an Extension Specialist working solely on climate issues and know the challenges that weather extremes from droughts to floods can pose to producers and resource managers. We will certainly still continue to talk about the weather on a regular basis, but our conversations in Extension and through the Hubs will also turn to what we can do about it as well. Posted by Mike Crimmins, Cooperative Extension, Arizona

14 thoughts on “Everybody Talks About the Weather…”

  1. I agree with aspects of the article such as the fact that we as humans need to start adapting to major changes in our weather cycles and start accepting that these so-called extremes are becoming the norm so that we may be better prepared for the future. Weather forecasting can obviously be helpful in broadcasting information to large numbers of people who are threatened by extreme weather but people need to take these warnings seriously and take precautionary measures. Global warming and in fact global cooling is rapidly changing weather systems across the globe and so efforts need to be made to reduce the effects and slow down the process. This can be done through the creation and use of sustainable energy sources, by reducing carbon emissions and limiting deforestation on a large scale.

  2. Weather will never be the same again with all this power stations emitting huge amount of gases to the atmosphere.It will just keep on changing,only if these countries such as America and China can find another way of reducing air pollution it can get better.Planting more vegetation can also be a better way to reduce climate change.

  3. According to the kyoto protocol, the giant countries have tried to deal with the prevention of climate change but countries like china and america are financially dependent on factories,in other words the more pollution they make, the more financial they develop.

  4. The topic really is interesting because come to think of it America is one of the countries having lots of industries which contribute to climate change. If they could come to an agreement of reducing their industries, these so much change in weather will be reduced. Some facts include that most people who feel changes in these dramatic changes are those from other countries neighbouring America. This is a really serious issue and must be taken seriously before it is too late

  5. it is great to find new methods that would reduce climate change.But even if we try to reduce the climate change,we will continue to experience it because these is a result a combination of factors/causes that were experienced centuries ago.The benefits will not be experienced soon, instead, these will benefit the next generation.People must realize that it is important to conserve the environment for the upcoming generations

  6. I think that the term “Global Warming” is the wrong term to use when talking about climate change.Climate change refers to general shifts in climate, including temperature, precipitation, winds, and other factors. Global warming (as well as global(cooling) refers specifically to any change in the global average surface temperature. Global warming is often misunderstood to imply that the world will warm uniformly. In fact, an increase in average global temperature will also cause the circulation of the atmosphere to change, resulting in some areas of the world warming more, others less. Some areas can even cool. Unfortunately, although it significantly misrepresents what really happens, the term ‘global warming’ is still often used by media and others to describe climate change.

  7. It is a good step in the right direction that most people have become aware of climate changes due to the shock it has sent throughout the world. In my own opinion, it is actually time to take a big step further .i.e. countries in the higher places e.g. USA should evaluate their usage of fossil fuels and make some life style changes especially based on carbon emissions per capita. Other than USA , we have countries in Southern Africa who are in great danger. We are looking at global warming, ocean system collapse and loss of diversity and extinction just to mention a few pressing issues. At the same time other smaller countries should try and deal with these issues. Nevertheless, some work is being done on this on this matter and that’s greatly appreciated at the moment.

  8. It is in fact a great article that should encourage other areas of the world to follow them and help make a difference in this world. Climate change is becoming a very big problem in the world and it has also been seen in the huge amount of water that has fallen over South Africa in the beginning of this year. Not only did it have an impact on us human beings, but as well as the animals and the infrastructure in South Africa. Roads were damaged badly, houses were broken, crops were destroyed and a lot of people suffered for an extremely long time and some still have not recovered from this tremendous damage that was done. This is only an example where climate change has clearly been seen and has made in impact in our land. Climate change is a problem that can not be fixed by only a few people, it is a problem that needs everyone’s help in the world to help contribute to make a change in this world. I agree that more money has to be channelled to the right places in order to build solutions to this problem, like other countries have been doing. By making little changes in our everyday lives, together we can make a change and help our planet.

  9. It is not only in America thatthe effects of climate change onweather can be seen. Severe weather changes have recently been witnessed in Limpopo. Who will forget the Youtube vodeo of a red BMW doing summersaults in the masses of water?The kruger national Park had to close soome areas to repair damage done by floods. Since the beginning of humankind, people have had to adapt to change. Now, once again, we have to adapt to changes in the climate. we have the capability and the resources to minimise the damage done by climate change. The Americans take their agricultural systems, natural resources and support to farmers very seriously. The Japanese also sets an example that we can follow. During very serious natural disasters, such as Tsunamis, they are able to get medical assistance to people in disaster areas very quickly. They also repair the damager done to infrastructure in a very short peiod of time. In order for us in SA to survive these changes in climate, we should learn from nations such as these. More money needs to be channelled to the right places.

  10. It is a great idea to introduce scientific ways and use modern technology to farmers.They the one’s who are greatly affected by the changes of weather and when their production level is affected the whole world will also be affected, because the food we depend on is naturally grown and not forgetting the meat from the farm animals.I also think that we should contribute as little as we can to assist in reducing the drastic weather changes.Methods such as recycling and afforestation can be a start,before it is too late for our previous planet Earth.

  11. weather literally affects everything in the planet, the people, plants and also the environment. It is good that some people are taking this serious and investing their time looking really deep into this weather issues because they are making a difference. By spreading the word it prepares us and makes us alert and looking into ways of dealing with this will be of great use because this will benefit everyone or let me rather say everything.

  12. u14179785

    Indeed everybody is talking about the weather on daily basis but yet no one does anything about it, is this due to the fact that we do not know what to do or are we just being ignorant? Finally the Cooperative Extension System will rescue the world. Distributing information about climate to different fields will help to spread the information faster this will be a quicker way to provide answers to everyone who does not know what to do. I believe we will soon see the difference.

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