100 Degrees in Minnesota; Wind Power; Drop in the Ocean

July 18, 2006

This past weekend it finally got hot in Minnesota. In fact, thanks to the moderate drought we're in, it even looked like Texas while out on Saturday: hot (101) with brown grass (cool but depressing map on that link — all of the plains states are in drought of some severity). I thought it felt wonderful and purposefully went out to a park to kick a soccer ball around with a friend. But it was not good for Minnesota.

Anecdotally, it has been clear that my two winters in Minnesota have been warmer than usual. This spring was as well, particularly in April (after a March that was more "normal" in its cold and snow). Now I have more than anecdotal proof: the 12 months from June 2005 through May 2006 were the hottest in Minnesota's 100 years of recorded weather history.

The temperature was supposed to stay around 100 on Sunday, but the forecasters completely missed a big storm that blew in overnight. I don't think it got over 91 degrees and we had pretty good rainfall (best in at least a month). So Sunday was muggy but relatively nice; I had no problem on a 10 mile bike ride, my longest yet. Though I have not found a good link to back this up, I recall reading (and it makes rational sense) that global climate change is making it much harder to predict even local weather patterns, so surprises like this shouldn't be surprising, at least in the long-range view of things.

Contemplating the increased electricity load, as the AC kept the house at 77 degrees for most of the weekend, I finally followed the example set by Dan in a recent comment: I signed up for Xcel Energy's wind program, Windsource. I signed up to pay a premium of $12/month for 600 kW-hr of wind-generated electricity.

Mother Theresa once famously said, "What we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. I do not agree with the big way of doing things." Well, I frankly disagree — the big way of doing this is very much needed. We need our cities, states, and national goverment to step up, we need our civil sector and businesses to step up — we need institutional reform that helps our society create less waste, recycle our byproducts, efficiently use our energy sources, and depend less on carbon-based energy. But my drop in the ocean still matters.


My moment of disbelief was when I saw in the news that South Dakota hit 115 degrees.

It did it again today. 101. With 117 heat index. Felt great, except inside my office, where the AC is broken and it was stuffy & in the low 80s.