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Hug Your Superintendent: '12 Hottest On Record In U.S.

Reports Justin Gillis...

The numbers are in: 2012, the year of a surreal March heat wave, a severe drought in the corn belt and a massive storm that caused broad devastation in the mid-Atlantic states, turns out to have been the hottest year ever recorded in the contiguous United States.

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Reader Comments (37)

I think I can hear the sound of a group of knuckle draggers making their way over to this blog to detail how global warming is all just a big conspiracy. Should be here any minute.
01.8.2013 | Unregistered Commenteract38

I thought you guys were calling it "climate change" now. As a grass grower this is good news, as job opportunities will begin to stretch further north. Tifeagle in NYC sound sweet to me.
01.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad S
This helps to explain the influx of Bermuda Grass greens in the Pinehurst area.
01.8.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
The global warming sceptics can shove it right up their clacker. Australia just had the hottest year on record and the last 3 days have been the hottest 3 days on record (in terms of average country temperature). They even added a new colour to the temperature heat map as computer models suggested temperatures above 50 C in South Australia.

And the golf courses are very dry....
01.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterIanB

The ultradwarf Bermudas are much more cold hardy along with there ability to withstand the diseases pressures of the transition zone. The switch to bermudagrass has more to do with morphological advances and budget constraints than simply an increase in relative temperature. If the Sandhills had the same lack of humidity and predatory insects as say the desert Southwest, then it wouldn't matter if a cool season or warm season cultivar was selected as a putting surface.
01.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad S
Brad S: "climate change" is a weasel phrase. Adopted by weak-willed types who are all too familiar with the said knuckle-draggers (who call themselves sceptics) who still consider evolution a "theory," possibly due to their own modest level of it. The descriptive is global warming. Just pop up to the Arctic if you want to check it out. You can come in a big ship, which WILL find the Northwest Passage and be able to traverse it. considerably south of where Franklin tried.
01.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGhillie
Just how old is planet earth?
01.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOlin MK V
Will someone tell Rush Limbaugh global warming is real - and he's the causes. Every time that noxious gas bag opens his mouth, tons of toxic hot air is released and another glacier melts and a fairways burns up!
01.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTLB
At the risk of being called a knuckle dragger, I will say the following: The issue isn't whether the climate is changing - of course it is, that is measurable by things such as ice coverage, and such. Definitely happening. The issue is has man caused this change to occur unnaturally, or I guess more importantly, can he reverse or minimize the impacts by changing his behavior in some way ? Clearly the climate changes naturally without man's involvement - there have been ice ages, where the globe was covered by ice, and the subsequently melted. The problem is we have such a short horizon of accurate measurement, especially in the scale of the ages of the earth.
01.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Well done, Brian S. Now add your theory of "if I can't see carbon dioxide, I ain't payin' for it" to the pile of "if evolution is real, how come my fish don't got legs and my cat don't got wings?" theories out there, and you've got yourself a debate club.

Personally, I think we should put the air conditioners outside, coz that's where all the hot is.
@ Vijay - I see, express a tiny bit of doubt in the orthodoxy and I'm an idiotic extremist. Not even doubt really, but a desire for some proofs beyond the obvious - that climate change is happening. So we agree on that. I don't know what Rush says about it, I don't listen to him or really any of those folks. My only desire was to separate the effect - which is obvious - from the cause or solution, which I think at least bears discussion and analysis.
01.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Brad S, Say What? I'm very familiar with the Pinehurst and Sandhills situation(as it sounds like you are) and I get what you are saying but heat is a very big reason for the switch. Most of the courses that have already made the switch had older bent greens that struggled in extreme heat conditions coupled with poor drainage. The new strains are proving to be easier to maintain both in terms of watering and aerifying. Winter is still the issue with Bermuda and even though the new strains stay greener most of the courses are using blankets to put on the greens during frost time. Somewhere around 6 courses in the Sandhills have already made the switch which includes CCNC. Pinehurst did their new putting green Thistle Du in Bermuda and Mid Pines is doing a restoration now which includes new Bermuda greens. I believe Pinehurst #1 is set to redo those greens with one of the Ultradwarfs as well.
01.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPete North
Brian S, Are you saying that you doubt that man is causing some of the climate change?
01.8.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
If anybody can get the Chicoms, Indians, and the other slave-state manufacturers to decimate their coal industries, power plants, and carbon-fed manufacturing, I might start to consider the carbon tax. Until that happens, the U.S. should not try to "solve" global warming on its own. I have news for you: These slave-states could care less about global warming . . .
01.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSmitty
@Smitty. Someone has to lead. Australia has introduced a Carbon Tax - first western nation to do so.
01.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterIanB
South and Central Texas in in the worst drought on record, going back 100's of years, and Galveston Island is showing a raised water level from the Gulf.

Nothing here to see, folks.
01.8.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
@ Harv - not sure what is causing it, but I am reasonably sure that there are natural fluctuations, even drastic ones, that have little to do with man. Was the climate in North America of say -1800 (pre industrialization) basically the same as that of 1400, as well as the time frame in the middle of those years?, I have no idea, but my guess is no. I also think that there are folks out there that want to use this to further an agenda that basically thinks we need to de-industrialize society, remove cars, air conditioning, ect - or deny those things to the billions of people that live across the developing world. That, I think, is a pipe dream, and maybe we should focus on more realistic solutions or at least coping mechanisms.
01.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
William Thompson (Lord Kelvin, he of absolute zero) calculated the age of the earth in the middle of the 19th Century based on his suppositions about the rate of cooling of rock to be expected after the "creation." His estimate passed Bishop Ussher (23 October 4004 BCE, I think) by about 40 million years. Quite a stretch for a devout Christian. He didn't know about radioactivity and was off by more than a couple of orders of magnitude (factors of 10). But it was a good scientific effort, based on the scientific knowledge of the say.

I repeat myself from November at greater length here: Svante Arrhenius, who won the third Nobel Prize in Chemistry as a founder of the discipline of physical chemistry (much to the chagrin of generations of graduate students, including yours truly) noted that the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuel (i.e., coal) would raise the temperature of the atmosphere due to the greenhouse effect. His first report was published in 1896. Yes, 1896. His calculations were actually pretty good, and were based on solid scientific knowledge and evidence. There was no unknown unknown like radioactivity acting on the system. But he had no idea how fast we would add this much CO2 to the atmosphere. His estimate was 3000 years to double the level; it took about 100. The consequences are now being felt. James Hansen and others have been sounding the alarm for more than 40 years. Bill McKibben wrote the first book-length treatment in the 1980s. The current models, if anything, underestimate the changes that we can actually measure. Contrary to popular (read: corporate) belief, the hockey stick temperature graph is accurate. And no, there is no conspiracy among climate scientists to "get rich" off grant money. It doesn’t work that way, unless you mean those who take "grant" money from surrogates of the oil companies.

"Scientific" deniers of anthropogenic climate change are the exact analog of the scientists (I use the term very loosely) who worked for Big Tobacco up until fairly recently. Their insistent refrain was “correlation is not causation.” Indeed it is not. All the while Big Tobacco was manipulating their product to make it more addictive, despite the absurdity of those tobacco executives raising their right hands before Congress and swearing that nicotine is not addictive. As for the correlation/causation controversy, before Big Tobacco, led by James B. Duke IIRC and his American Tobacco “monopoly,” marketed his (manipulated, addictive) product as a lifestyle choice for the sophisticated, lung cancer was extremely rare in this country even though smoking was not uncommon. 50-60 years later that was not true. And, moreover, 90% of lung cancer patients smoked the manipulated, hot-burning, nicotine delivery devices provided to them by Big Tobacco. But correlation is not causation. However, now we know exactly what the mutagens in tobacco smoke do, even if we cannot pinpoint the exact series of mutations that caused, say, my father’s lethal metastatic adenocarcinoma of the lung or my grandfather’s lethal metastatic adenocarcinoma of the bladder. We had plenty of scientific knowledge that smoking causes lung cancer long before Surgeon General Luther Terry issued his report in 1964. Nevertheless, it has taken until now for environments to be generally free of the Class A carcinogen that is tobacco smoke.

In the case of greenhouse gases causing global warming primarily in the Northern Hemisphere and crazy weather all over the globe, there is no disconnect between correlation and causation. There never has been. However, it was believed for a long time that the oceans would absorb the CO2 we add to the atmosphere faster than we could burn the coal and oil. We now know that we were mistaken. The oceans have absorbed the CO2 and their acidity is increasing measurably as a consequence. Coral reefs are dying and then dissolving as a result.

“Our” fossil fuels were deposited in the earth’s crust over the course of hundreds of millions of years, during which that carbon remained sequestered. We are doing our damnedest to release it all in about 300 years. You don't have to be anything other than reasonable to think that might have a measurable effect on the atmosphere and the biosphere. And we don’t have to continue. The argument has been made, by among others that noted polymath Newt Gingrich, that extinctions happen all the time and have been a regular occurrence for about 3 billion years. So what’s the big deal? Well, when the asteroid made the Chicxulub Crater and/or the Deccan Traps were erupting, we didn’t do it! The task is potentially undoable, and I am not optimistic while remaining hopeful. The chlorofluorocarbon manufacturers wailed that we were destroying them and phasing out those gases wouldn't fix the ozone hole. They were wrong, on both counts.

And one last thing, Brian. What if the climate scientists, geophysicists, and generally reasonably smart people who can apprehend reality with their own senses, physical and mental, are wrong? What if something else is causing global warming/climate change? The latest straw to be grasped at seems to be cosmic rays. Knock yourself out. But if we stop acting like a meth addict on Oxycontin when it comes to coal, oil, and natural gas, then all of it will just last that much longer. And the party can continue for our children and their children. Even if Exxon-Mobil profits decrease to $16 billion a year instead of $16 billion a quarter, they can continue that for 4-8-12 times longer. And the Arctic Ice Cap might recover (somewhat), the Greenland Ice Sheet might not melt (completely) and raise sea level by meters instead of inches, the North Atlantic Gyre might not get disrupted and kill the Gulf Stream, and Great Britain might not then look like Siberia in February (the current Siberia, not the thawed one). Win, win, win.

As for your coping mechanisms, you and Matthew Kahn will have a lot to agree on. You be the first one to spray the stratosphere full of sulfur aerosols in a one-time, uncontrolled global experiment. And be sure to remember that one of your coping mechanisms will have to be underwater golf at St. Andrews. As for deindustrialization, well, there is no real reason I should pass 10 new car dealerships with thousands of new hunks of Detroit iron on them on my way to the golf course. We have better things to do with our limited resources.

Now, I have a grant to finish writing. One that won't make me rich even if it does somehow win the lottery.


Note added in proof:
Nice try, Smitty. I hear that one a lot. But the Chinese are actually doing more than we are. Will they succeed? Maybe not. Are their motives pure? Whose are? But environmental degradation might also force their hand. In the meantime they are eating our lunch when it comes to developing technologies that might supplant fossil fuels to some extent.
It's an ACS journal. It doesn't get any better than that when it comes to legitimacy.
BTW, Chicoms? You sound like the late, great Aldo Ray in "The Green Berets" telling David Janssen just how wrong he is.
01.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
There's no need to de-industrialise. In fact we need to utilize the technology that's been around for decades in order to replace coal and oil as much as possible. Wind power, solar power, geothermal, wave-generated energy, electric cars, improved mass rapid transport. I see why these things are changing slowly in Burkina Faso, but heavily industrialised nations have had the ability to change the way we live for years.

Oh, I know, I know, it's not 'economically viable' (i.e. someone other than those in power will profit). Look at the debt of the US, Australia, and large slabs of Europe. How can the current system be called economically viable?

There is actually a mountain of evidence that humans are changing the climate, plus a molehill of evidence (often funded by PR groups paid by oil/coal companies) that says it's mostly due to volcanic activity (which is responsible for about 2% of all greenhouse gasses).

There's a whole bunch of Nero's fiddling the figures while the Earth burns.
Oh, yeah. Forgot to add this: All those really useful strains of fine-bladed Bermuda that are supplanting bent grass in the ever-migrating transition zone? Thank the late Glenn W. Burton (1910-2005) of the University of Georgia and the Tifton Agricultural Experiment Station. Go Dawgs!
01.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
KLG.......With a little effort I bet we can figure out a way to pin all that on Finchem ;0)

Current notes to self:

--> don't argue with Rob about golf courses in Asia.
--> don't argue with Ky on global warming.
01.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
KLG for president!
01.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Touched a nerve there I see, BrianS.

Some good points as always from KLG. I trust the graph he noted wasn't the same one Michael "Its not wrong to be wrong" Mann played hockey with at Penn State. We know they would never tolerate false data or protect something that was wrong because of a profit motive. Oh, wait....
01.9.2013 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
@KLG - thanks for the detailed and illuminating post.
01.9.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS

As I read your piece, I kept expecting James Kunstler quotes from "World Made By Hand" and several comments from Ed Abbey.

You probably didn't have time, so here's my paraphrased version:

"We should declare a hunting season on cows. I admit, it wouldn't be much fun at first, but the breed would probably improve rapidly."
01.9.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLudell Hogwaller
i think this is a good thought re those who till deny that global warming issues exist: its like going to 1000 doctors and having 999 of them tell you you have a problem...and you believing the 1 who says you dont
01.9.2013 | Unregistered Commenterchicago pt
Here's the problem, chicago pt. The solution is not a freakin' one-way street, but one would think so given the positions on both sides. You don't know how much I respect Ky's credentials. He does because we've had lengthy discussions on many topics. When agenda-driven science and special interest deniers are called out and removed from the process, the world will be a helluva lot more receptive to the "why take a chance" argument and get on board.
01.9.2013 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
Why we should care, as explained by my friend Ky, and myself.

As a note supporting my position, Jack Nicklaus and I have won 18 majors.

Thanking you all in advance,


ps: thank you Ky. Well done and I live 30 minutes from the major frack drilling in Texas, and while I am supportive of the need for fossil fuels- the use of alternative fuels, as they are so sadly called, is needed NOW, not in 30 years.

Why isn't a depth meter placed in several public placs, and guess what- you can see the water rising. Venice may not be such a tourist trap when every coastal city is in the water.
01.9.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Ludell: I tend to take (and give) Kunstler in very small doses. He scares the children, of all ages. Not that he is wrong. "The Long Emergency" is in the tradition of The Prophets, to whom no one listened either. The Babylonian Captivity will be remembered as a vacation compared to the fate we are probably preparing for ourselves. Haven't read "World Made by Hand", but finally got around to "The Geography of Nowhere" recently. I live there, but the framework remains to recover a sound way of life. The book is very good, and he put me on to Christopher Alexander (Pattern Language, etc.). Even better. Cactus Ed was right about most things, too. And a damn sight funnier.

About Michael Mann's hockey stick graph. Every scientific field has several participants like Mann: downright controversial, for real reasons. Some are right, some are wrong, some are in between. His original graph was published in the late 1990s and then used in the IPCC report of 2001, where it set off seismic tremors. As a result of the "Hockey Stick Graph Controversy" the National Academy of Sciences prepared a report on the matter (2006). Much of the controversy apparently centers on the Late Medieval Warming (~1000 C.E.) and the Little Ice Age centered around 1700 C.E. (if you do a cursory Google search on the matter). The NAS report conclusions included:

"It can be said with a high level of confidence that global mean surface temperature was higher during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period during the preceding four centuries. This statement is justified by the consistency of the evidence from a wide variety of geographically diverse proxies."
and, contra Mann:
"Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that 'the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium' because the uncertainties inherent in temperature reconstructions for individual years and decades are larger than those for longer time periods and because not all of the available proxies record temperature information on such short timescales."

However, since 2006 the evidence for warming has gotten stronger, not weaker. And if you look carefully at the original graph and later versions through 2005 that include data from other studies from other authors (NAS Report, p. 2), the warming signature is clear, with little study-to-study variability starting in the mid-19th century. That would be some time after coal replaced water as the primary power source for the Industrial Revolution. Correlation is not causation. But there is little mystery here.

The NAS Report (free) can be found at:

Now, lunch is over.
01.9.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG

With bentgrass (cool season or C3 turf types) photorespiration occurs at 85 degrees, so heat will always be an issue no matter if the greens are located in the Sandhills or Chicago for that matter. The cost of water and fungicides to combat diseases are much greater factors than relative temperature when converting to a more efficient C4 turf type such as bermudagrass. The covers are a matter of preference as many course choose to paint the greens during the winter for added color and aesthetic value. While interns maybe no longer be wilt watching into the early hours of the evening, the trade off comes in the form of more intensive cultural practices due to the thatch accumulation of the ultradwarf bermudas including the need for more core aeration, venting, verticutting, grooming and top dressing. I assume, and may be wrong, that choosing an ultradwarf for Thistle Du has more to do with not having to kick members and guest off the putting surface to syringe the greens than anything else. Economics plays much more into these decisions than agronomics.
01.9.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad S
Brad S, Just read an article in my favorite local golf rag that said the oppisite in terms of aerifying the Mini-Verde. Once a year after grow-in. Also the need for less fungicides, less verticutting and less topdressing.Another big advantage is the turnaround time. Courses are closing at the beginning of summer and back open by the fall. The firmness handles foot traffic extremely well also which helps to explain Thistle Du.
01.9.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv

I manage the stuff everyday and can tell you they are wrong. Check out the TPC Sawgrass maintenance blog to get an idea of how the ultra dwarfs are managed.
01.10.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad S
Interesting.....I know the writer of the article and he is solid so evidently some of these places were sold a false promise because that is what they told him, including the top guy at a course that is set to host a big time major in a few years.
01.10.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
@Ian B: I guess the Aussies are the first ones stupid enough to put their tallywackers on the chopping block. I have an economic bridge we can jump off . . . You first! My pleasure . . .

KLG, you are next in line, if you want . . .
01.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSmitty
Already jumped, Smitty, and the water is fine. I live in town and walk to work. It is December 12th and on the way to the golf course this afternoon I will have to put gas in my non-gas guzzling Honda Civic that has required only semi-regular oil changes, one new battery, and a couple of sets of tires since I bought it in September 2000, 124,000 miles ago. I just looked. The last time I stopped at the gas pump was December 4th. And btw, my tallywhacker was also fine last time I looked. About that "on the way to the golf course" thing, the forecast is for 81 degrees this afternoon. I do live in the South, but not in South Beach. 81 degrees on December 12th, given the climate trends noticeable and measurable for the past 20 years, is not just "weather." Must be the cosmic rays.
01.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
But just in case it's not the cosmic rays and we do have something to do with it, here is a little light reading for you from those soshulists at the World Bank, that institution for which that noted communist Larry Summers was once Chief Economist and whose list of presidents includes other sketchy people such as John McCloy, Eugene Black, Robert McNamara, James Wolfensohn, Paul Wolfowitz, and Robert Zoellick. All well known haters of the American Way of Life. Come to think of it, Wolfowitz is sketchy as hell and later couldn't see why hiring his girlfriend might be a problem, but I digress.
Click on "Turn Down the Heat." It's easy reading. And you are welcome to tell us all where they have gone wrong. We'll wait. But not too long. I have to get to Glacier National Park before the name gets changed to National Park.
01.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
January. Oops. Brain cramps hurt.
01.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG

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