Summer in March? I ask the experts, Joe Romm of Climate Progress, and Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground. Then we visit with Professor Raymond De Young.

When we get exciting weather, it’s hard to beat the Dr. Jeff Masters blog at the Weather Underground. Jeff has taught meteorology, he’s been a Hurricane Hunter for NOAA, and still watches storms and all forms of strange weather.


Here is a link to Jeff’s key blog post on “Summer in March”.

In the interview, I also reference this article from Andrew Freedman of Climate Central. His piece was titled “Global Warming May Have Fueled March Heat Wave Odds.” And this is what Dr. James Hansen of NASA has been saying: we wouldn’t see these extreme heat events so often, without the greenhouse gases we’ve added to the atmosphere.

Also at, your weather historian Christopher C. Burt posted some neat graphics and a thorough listing of the new heat records set. Our listeners from the Mid-West, through New England and all of Eastern Canada can find the new and old records here.

And it wasn’t just in North America. The UK Telegraph headline Friday March 23rd: “UK to be as Hot as the Sahara This Weekend.” Britain hit 20 degrees C, a balmy 68, the day before, a temperature normally seen in June.

You can find Bill McKibben ( talking with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! about the weird March weather here.

I also like this blog entry at the Washington Post from “the Capital Weather Gang”.

For more on impacts on crops, here is another radio piece from IPR.

CBS did a decent piece on the impact of early Spring/summer weather for allergy sufferers.

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Summer in March… is it a preview of global warming? Our guest has a Ph.D. in physics from MIT. He was a top advisor for energy efficiency and renewables in the Clinton Administration. Joe Romm is author of the book “Hell and High Water“. But many of us know him as the world’s best climate blogger over at

Here is Joe’s great piece on the March heat wave. He’s so good at summing up for busy people, targeting what really matters.

On the agricultural damage caused in Texas by the big heat and drought of 2011, see Joe’s other post here.


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Young climate scientists have heard enough from old weathermen and fake experts. A group of real scientists rolled out this quick song on You tube. My thanks to VR in Colorado for this G-rated version.

Here is a link to the clean version of “I’m a Climate Scientist” as a You tube video (OK for FCC broadcast regs). My thanks to VR in Colorado for creating the fun clean version for Radio Ecoshock.


Raymond De Young is an academic who isn’t working for a military think-tank, or explaining why we should just keep climbing the consumer ladder. His “Localization Reader” will likely fall into hands that get dirty in gardens, and active in your community.

De Young is Associate Professor of Environmental Psychology and Planning, in the School of Natural Resources and Environment, at the University of Michigan.

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I came upon Raymond’s work through the psychologist Carolyn Baker. Carolyn has the “Speaking Truth to Power” web site, and a great alternative headline news service. She passed on an article about how to survive our knowledge of a society under extreme stress – with a technique as simple as a walk in the park. The article is titled “Restoring Mental Vitality in an Endangered World: Reflections on the Benefits of Walking“.

This really struck a chord with me. I walk through some trees, or along a stream, every day of the year. I’ve had a few almost hallucinogenic moments just looking at the delicate patterns in a patch of weeds. Should we worry about all the millions of minds who have departed for electronic screens, living in electrons?

Here is where to find Raymond’s blog “The Localization Papers”.

Along with Thomas Princen, De Young has selected a bunch of useful papers on relocalization, for a new book, “The Localization Reader, Adapting to the Coming Downshift” coming from MIT Press.

I like the mix of papers. You get classic works from people like M. King Hubbert, Joseph Tainter, Ivan Illich, and Wendell Berry. But they’ve also captured some of the new relocalization voices like Sharon Astyk and Rob Hopkins.

In our interview, I ask what De Young means by “downshift”. It turns out it may be a more positive substitute for “collapse.” De Young describes it more like deciding to shift down a gear in a car, as we shift downwards in our unnecessary consumption of resources, indeed of the Earth.

In the end, we get back to the problem of surviving the tidal wave of bad news, hitting us every day. I ask De Young how he copes, and is there more the rest of us can do, to maintain our vitality?

Neither of us are saying we should be “suzy sunshine” all the time. A bit of depression and cynicism is also healthy, given the slightly suicidal path our civilization is taking at the moment.


When it comes to the un-natural heat in March 2012, we all have news images that stick in our minds. For me, it was a farmer in the wheat belt, looking over a bare field that should have been several feet deep with snow. He worried it would be too dry to plant wheat this year.

Canadians and Americans dug out their shorts, or even their bathing suits in March. I hope this will this get people talking more around the dinner table about climate change.

Then we have a horrible paradox to deal with: people like going to the beach much more than they like a March blizzard. At first, millions of us are going to love global warming. Could that defeat action to save a livable world?

Polls seem to show more North Americans believe climate disruption is happening. Yet in Canada, the Prime Minister is busy gutting environmental laws, to speed up construction of Tar Sands pipelines. In the United States, President Obama is bragging about all the pipelines he’s approved. Aren’t we driving awfully hard to make sure a climate disaster happens?

I feel like a kind of climate quake has just happened in North America and Britain. Sure it’s just weather, but millions of people got a taste of the future.

That’s it for Radio Ecoshock this week. I trust your life will never be the same. It’s all changing my friend. Set your clocks for a future not advertised on TV.

Our background music was provided by Vastmandana. Don’t forget our web site, Tune in next week, and please tell your friends about this program. Before it’s too late?

Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock