Early Spring

Did you know that in 1965 the U.S. Department of Agriculture planted a particular variety of lilac in more than 70 locations around the U.S. Northeast, to detect the onset of spring — in turn to be used to determine the appropriate timing of corn planting and the like? The records the U.S.D.A. have kept show that those same lilacs are blooming as much as two weeks earlier than they did in 1965. April has, in a very real sense, become May.

That’s from a RealClimate blog post about a new book by Amy Seidl called Early Spring. The subtitle is An Ecologist and Her Children Wake to a Warming World — so no, it doesn’t appear that Seidl is blaming the lilacs for global warming.


Hmmm... here in my part of Canada, we awoke to a city full of snow.


i'd be interested to see how it compares with the sakura zensen or cherry blossom front recorded annually in japan.

this tracks when the japanese cherry tree will bloom and runs in a wave like a weather front from south to north every spring.

it allows the japanese to plan their hanami or cherry blossom parties but would also illustrate the impact of climate change.


And yet to those of us here in Chicago, "Early Spring" is but a fantasy. Even "Normal Spring" is a fantasy, seeing as it's April 14, and it's 41 degrees and rainy outside. I think that "Late Spring" is our reality here...

L Nettles

Warm weather being supportive of abundant life, sounds like a good thing to me. So what the best temperature for the world?

Eric M. Jones

There are scant few global-warming-doubters around here. It is easy to show that the globe is getting somewhat warmer. Certainly humans are partly responsible and have made a mess of things. But I am bothered by wild claims of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). There are many reasons for taking a less rabid view. Here are some of mine:

1) Science is not a matter of getting everyone to agree. Really it isn't. Honest! Why this has become an emotionally charged and political debate is beyond me.

2) In the words of Dr. David Deutsch, it is too late to prevent a global-warming disaster. In fact it was too late to stop the global-warming disaster even in the 1970's when the best scientific theory said that atmospheric pollution was going to cause a new ice age that would kill millions. We can fix it somewhat, but we can't prevent it.

3) We live in the Holocene interglacial epoch. In this period the earth has been warming and virtually all of human history from about 11,550 years ago took place in it. There is no reason to believe we will not return to mile-thick glaciers in the future.

4) It is typical that AGW believers don't include many climatologists or even meteorologists, who understand how climate chages over the centuries. This gives one pause.

5) When the pilgrims landed in 1620, one could walk across New York harbor on the ice. The Earth is now, not as much warmer than average, as it then was colder than average. Hmmmm.....

6) Have you seen the Sun recently? It is now quieter than any time in the last century. No sunspots means a cooler Sun. Many AGW people are in a panic. Google "Maunder Minimum" to find out why.

7) Check "Milankovitch Cycles". Love those Russians!
They ALL point to a coming ice age.

8) Having a baby is the super-humongous-GIANT carbon footprint. Little has been said about this.

So call me a "Biostitute" or whatever. I'll take the long bet. In the meantime, let's clean up the planet and live a good life.



My tail it is. April has become a mild February. Worst weather I can remember.


Oh no...a GW post....lol.

I sometimes wonder why we don't talk about all the wonderful things associated with global warming. 99% of what's written is what will be detrimental, but things don't work like that. Even if 90% of it's terrible - something's got to benefit. What will?

I also think we'd be much better off with an environmental cause whose catch phrase doesn't require silly mental back flips. Let's fight climate change! Ahhh hello, what do they want global cooling? Global stay the same? Decelerated warming? Should we guess what's natural and shoot for that, but what if that includes bad things for polar bears? How do we accomplish this?

And these people (cough manbearpig) seem to be able to predict the future within a tight range of degrees, AND, list all the horrible consequences (no dampening feedback loops in the models such as reduced co2 release from soil microbes) that we are to suffer. I hope we don't have an increase in volcanic activity that might dampen the linear progression - then what would we do? New wrong models I suppose.

I can't take that garbage seriously. I know the planet is warming; it could be bad it could be not so bad, it could be good. I know that humans have had a role. How could we have not? I can get behind treading lightly on our earth. Now when we get people throwing their critical thinking skills out the window, people who should know better, then I'll step aside and let the lemmings pass.

Earlier lilac blooms - not such a bad thing. Maybe that's number one on my list.



Eric M Jones:

On your point 2 - it is not true that most scientists thought we were headed for an Ice Age in the '70s.

On your point 4 - care to back that statement up with some corroborating evidence?


Melissa - those were my thoughts exactly. Do they have this data for the Midwest? Because I think lilacs come out here for like a day in late May.

Eric M. Jones

— Woesinger

"On your point 2 - it is not true that most scientists thought we were headed for an Ice Age in the '70s."

Those are Dr. David Deutch's words not mine. Actually I remember the Ice Age notion throughout the 1960's. Although the influence of CO2 trapping science had been established as early as 1920, most people (in my understanding) thought that particulate matter was a bigger problem.

"On your point 4 - care to back that statement up with some corroborating evidence?"

Climatologists and Meteorologists--Perhaps you are right and I notice it more when one of these people disagrees with AGW people. Nevertheless, as I said, science is not a matter of consensus. Really it isn't.

I could be wrong. Can you say that?


It comes down to whether you believe the people who have spent their lives studying a topic to be right or not. I'm not sure if they are but they certainly have a better shot than I do, or Eric M Jones.

It is a basic fact of America anti intellectualism, we spend billions of dollars educating people (supposedly) to be the best in the world. Then refuse to believe them when they say something we don't like.


It's not May in DC. Brrrr.

Eric M. Jones

— Adam#11 "It comes down to whether you believe the people who have spent their lives studying a topic to be right or not. I'm not sure if they are but they certainly have a better shot than I do, or Eric M Jones....blah, blah, blah."

Yeh, that's what I say...Always Trust Authority. When have they ever failed us?


Has September become August?
Maybe we need a lunar calendar.

Brian McKim

I've done some gardening in my day, particularly intense in the years from 1988 through 2007. And I saw that some bulbs would bloom for a while, then crap out. Especially if not tended to.

Is it possible that thes lilacs are going through some sort of natural phase? They're maturing, they're sucking on the same soil for nutrients, they're going through their natural cycle-- perhaps that would mean blooming early for a few years... then who know what. Maybe they'll all croak soon... or start blooming later... or bloom earlier. Is there a control group of lilacs?

I never had much luck with lilacs.

Plus they make my eyes water.

Can't beat the smell, though!


Reading any discussion of climate change involving the American public is acutely distressing for the rest of the world.

Its like looking back into the 1970s. Could you please wake up ? This is an actual ongoing real emergency. We need your help!

Climate change doesn't mean everywhere will get warmer or that the change will be constant: if its colder in a few places or this year, that doesn't mean its not happening.

There are many natural cycles and there have been past periods of warming: if you eliminate the likely effects of those cycles (that produced past highs) we're still warmer than we should be. Also the rate of change is greater than the changes which led up to previous warm periods, meaning the environment is less likely to adapt.

The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is massively higher than at any period in millions of years.

All glaciers on every continent are retreating and ice shelves are breaking up (a few spots in Antartica are colder). North polar ice cap is thinner and less extensive year by year. Greenland ice cap is melting.

Acidification of the seas is measurably increasing and becoming more widespread (they aren't really getting acid, just not 'neutral').

It is happening, it is man-made, it is going to impact everybody badly.

I find it hard to believe that the many friendly, intelligent and kind Americans I meet are really so selfishly inclined that they won't change their lifestyles to fight this change. What will it take to convince you?



Griff - There is nothing that will convince some people. They do not like the answers so they choose to ignore them. (or make themselves feel clever by "questioning authority".)

Just The Facts

griff - "North polar ice cap is thinner and less extensive year by year. "

According to the National Sea & Ice Data Center NSIDC, which is sponsored by NASA and NOAA, the Arctic Ice Extent appears to be maintaining its coverage this year and getting close to the 1979 - 2000 average: http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_timeseries.png

Eric M. Jones

Jeffs post contains many falsehoods. (Falsehoods aren't okay, even if your cause is just).

"The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is massively higher than at any period in millions of years."

CO2 was much higher in the distant past. Check your sources (Notice I have not quoted a particular source. There are many objective sources...you pick one.)

"All glaciers on every continent are retreating..."

Again, not true. See: www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/Ice_Age.html

There are a couple great PDFs here from Newsweek. Worth the read. www.denisdutton.com/cooling_world.htm

What I (again) consider unjustified is the rabid defense of a scientific notion by people (I pass no judgement on their qualifications).

Take a lesson: Scientists don't sign petitions to decide the truth of this idea or that. And they don't raise their hand and VOTE. If 99% of people agree on a subject, let's talk to that 1%....




Best link I can find on melting glaciers is:


I couldn't find good Rainier data more recent than your 2000 item

Edited information on CO2: (various sources)
Co2 increase in last 200 years: 290 or so to 380 parts per million - a huge increase considering it never went out of the range of about 180-280 parts per million in the past 400 000 years. It's an increase of about 30%. (figures of course disputed...)

#19 I can't find a good link, but search for data showing age of polar ice and thickness - there's a lot less old ice so ice cover thinner, more prone to melting: also a one year recovery isn't significant in the trend.

Finally see this - link to climate sceptics meeting report - I don't agree, but shows even some of them refute the more outrageous anti-warming claims: