Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
Now that the cherry trees have bloomed in Kyoto this year, I’ve been seeing people claiming that the cherry blossoming record shows the dreaded “Climate Change!!!”, and we’re all gonna die. Here’s an example:
Now, cherries blossoming earlier on that chart mean the temperature is warmer. I looked at that and thought “Hmmm … why would the full flowering dates of the cherry trees be relatively stable for about a thousand years, and then suddenly start moving earlier in the year?”
The first thing that came to my mind? “Population”. As a city’s population increases, the “urban heat island” effect causes the temperature inside the city limits to increase. And the more people in the city, the warmer than the surrounding countryside it usually becomes.
So I went and got the cherry blossom data here. And I dug around and after much frustration and a reasonable sprinkling of expletives, I got Kyoto population data here and here and here. What I found is that after the Meiji restoration in 1868, the population of Kyoto rose very rapidly.
Below is the result. Unlike the graphic above, I’ve inverted the left-hand vertical axis so that warmer is higher and colder is lower on the graph. Here you go:
As is usual in the world of climate … things are rarely as simple as folks make them out to be. Are there other factors involved in cherry blossom timing? Absolutely—temperature, humidity, rainfall, and changes in tree species have to be some of the players in the game … and it certainly seems that population is among them. No surprise there. Willis’s First Rule of Climate states, “Everything is related to everything else, which in turn is affected by everything else … except when it isn’t.”
Here on our springtime forest hillside with a tiny bit of the ocean visible in the distance, I spent half the day yesterday with a digging bar and a posthole digger, trying to get the remains of a rotted 6″x6″ (150mm x 150mm) wooden gatepost out of the ground so I can put in a new one. It was most recalcitrant, held in the ground by the remains of the concrete it had been set in, plus plenty of temporal inertia. Even after I’d used the digging bar to crack up the concrete, it still held fast.
After far too much sweat I thought “You idiot!”, and I went and grabbed my Hi-Lift jack, threw a strap around what was left of the post, and yanked it out of the ground like a rotten tooth …
… sometimes it takes me a while, but I generally get there in the end.
Best to all on this marvelously complex planet,
My Perennial Request: I can defend my words, but not your interpretation of my words. Please quote the exact words you’re discussing so we can be clear on your subject.
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