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Global Warming Above Tom's Restaurant

By Michael Scully

Columbia Graduate School of Journalism

Class of 1997 Adviser: Ken Brief

Copyright By Michael Scully 1997

Global Warming Above Tom's Restaurant

Working with Mother Nature

On a winter afternoon, Shaler McReel walks over a crusty-sheet of white snow to the center of a field. His farm rolls out around him. With hands in pockets, he shrugs his shoulders and recalls his favorite time of year, a June evening at the height of the planting season: "Have you ever smelled the smell of a field of corn in full tassel? There's nothing like it. There's this aroma in the air with the pollen everywhere," the 39-year-old farmer says, standing, looking down on a frozen field that slopes to the edge of a New Hampshire wood. His gaze is distant like a daydream. "You know what it smells like? It smells like new money, literally," he says. "You know, the way it smells right from the presses." For nine years, McReel has farmed 14 acres in Madbury, N.H., growing fruits and vegetables which he sells to local grocers and at a roadside farm stand. To him, the

venture is his livelihood, a self-described "capitalist venture" that depends on his stamina and almost entirely on the graciousness of Mother Nature. Soon, the snows from this mild winter will melt away and the planting will begin. His days will shift from hours in the kitchen sipping coffee and managing his deceased mother's estate, to waking at 5 a.m. and tending the fields until well after sunset. Before his hands comb the dirt, he and the community of farmers along the Piscataqua River, dividing New Hampshire from Maine, will look for clues to the coming seasons. Their research is part science, part tradition and part farmer's lore. They'll watch the television and papers, consider the past seasons and watch the weather of the March skies the night of the full moon. They search for a chilling dew known as the last "killing frost," the ecological end of the winter. The planting begins soon after. To most, the weather is a topic of conversation, an obstacle to be transcended, a curiosity that shatters the pattern of a daily routine. But to farmers like McReel, the weather rules. It engineers their days like the way the Dow Jones might control a Wall Street broker. "What effect does it have over me? The weather is my life," McReel says. His prosperity is factored upon the balance of sunshine and rain. He can control one but is victim to the other. "You can always make it rain," he said referring to irrigation. "But you can't make the sun come out." A shift in the balance of the two can dictate what crops he'll grow: "If it's a hot, dry year, you're not going to grow lettuce that year. You'll go with tomatoes."

McReel has found success in mixing his crops. Every year, he'll grow corn, garlic, lettuce, melons, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, squash and fresh-cut flowers, a major cash crop. How much of each depends on the weather. In McReel's world, all weather is local. Rain can fall on his farm and blow over another a few miles away. A rise in the landscape can lift one farmer above the frost or flood line but place it in the pathway of heavy winds. Ultimately, each farmer must know how the shape of the landscape can influence the natural elements and their effect on crops. On this local level, farmers like McReel and his friend Barry Hayes will tell you that after watching a lifetime of seasons, the New England climate has gotten more severe. Of course, that opinion is based on memory and speculation. In the greater scheme of things, McReel and Hayes tend tiny farms. "A postage stamp compared to the farms in Iowa," says McReel and smallness has its advantages. Their farms are small enough to be irrigated but when drought sweeps through the Midwest as it did in 1988, the great corporate farmers are powerless. Knowing the weather and the chemical influences that control climate become increasingly more important and Mother Nature's temperament could be changing for the worse. Scientists are saying that an outpouring of man-made pollutants - called greenhouse gases - are shifting the chemical makeup of the planet's atmosphere altering the climate, making it more volatile. That trend is called global warming. Today, most scientists agree that the Earth has warmed, increasing by one degree - from 57 degrees (F) to 58 degrees - since the beginning of the century. But few are certain of the significance or what it will do to weather patterns on the Earth.

Like most Americans, McReel and Hayes have heard of the issue but won't speculate on its meaning. Instead, they'll continue on as they have, watching their produce and live stock for clues. During the drier seasons, they'll pray for rain as they twist the valves filling the veins of their irrigation systems with costly municipal water; during the rainy seasons, they'll simply pray.

Watching the Weather from Broadway

In New York City, James Hansen, one of NASA's leading atmospheric scientists, has committed his life's research to the issue of global warming. This expert believes that the warming trend is altering the planet's weather patterns making them more severe: an arid climate will be drier; a humid climate will be wetter; and the cycle of weather that moves moisture between those two regions will be harsher. "Clearly, global warming is going to have an impact. Over the next century, the climate change is going to occur faster than it ever has," he said, during an interview in his office off Broadway. "It's going to make the planet warmer than it's been in a million years." The increased temperature makes the deserts of the western plains more prone to drought while the islands of the Caribbean will be soaked with heavier rains. Ultimately, the weather patterns of the planet are changing and no one knows what the long term effects will be.

"People are affected by climatic extremes and the frequency of extremes would change greatly," he said. He wouldn't speculate on the long term damage. But there are clues. In 1993, the Mississippi River flowed over its banks and swallowed Missouri and Indiana. In 1996, the East Coast was smothered with the heaviest snow fall in 100 years. Although New York City recorded most of its record high temperatures during the last decade, Hansen said that no one local weather event can be seen as proof of the warming. That pattern of extreme weather conditions repeats around the United States. He calls global warming "loading the climate dice," which means that while a city like New York may once have had one mild winter per decade, soon, the region will have two or three. The shift could be havoc on local farmers, waterfront homeowners and others. "It's a little difficult trying to get the full picture," he said. "But under those conditions, some parts of the ecology are going to have a hard time adapting." Only now are scientists like Hansen beginning to understand the science. Hansen is not alone in his quest. Today, more than 2,500 scientists worldwide, subscribing to the theory that the Earth's temperature is increasing, search for clues. They measure the thickness of glaciers and the polar ice caps, track migratory patterns of bugs, birds and animals, and study the atmosphere. After years of intense research, the issue hasn't lost any of its luster or its mystery. There are skeptics of the warming trend as well. Those scientists believe that the Earth's average temperature is constantly influx. At its extremes, it was hot enough to host cold-blooded dinosaurs, and ancient ancestors of the crocodile swam in the Hudson

River, and cold enough for glaciers to extend from the poles to Northern Virginia, burying Manhattan a mile deep in ice. To these scientists, the planet's temperature is cyclical. In their eyes, this century's one degree increase is just part of that greater thermal calendar. The more apocalyptic scientists say no. In the past, the Ice Age was brought on by natural shifts in the chemical balance of the atmosphere but this time the Earth is warming because of pollution. Like Hansen, they believe that those man-made pollutants must be regulated so that the planet's atmosphere can find its balance. Fearing this won't happen, those scientists have created subordinate theories on the byproducts of that weather change. They say ice caps will melt, sea level will rise, migration patterns for animals and birds will shift, tropical diseases will spread into the more temperate regions, and finally, farmers will have to move towards the poles or change their crops. All have an economic impact. Beyond this, scientists can only speculate on the human misery.

Somewhere Between Sand and Ice

The Earth's atmosphere can best be described as a complex viscous goo that swirls in patterns around the planet. White clouds skate over blue skies high enough to scrape the belly of space; heavy black rain clouds commute over city skylines mingling with the urban smog; the sun, rising and setting, remains a constant but the winds, ever-

shifting, blow in from the coast, or down from the north or up from the gulf. Those are the visible produces of the weather patterns on this planet and each has a mission. Weather, in simplest terms, is the movement of water and heat from one region to the next. Predicting that movement is a more difficult matter. Picking the weather for cities like New York is a game of estimates as the Earth's atmosphere with its convections continue to stir. Television weathermen can call the nearterm weather with great accuracy but predicting the it five-to-seven days in advance becomes more difficult. With each added day comes variables that make weather prediction a guessing game. Bruce C. Douglas, a research scientist at the Laboratory for Coastal Research in Hyattsville, Md., compared weather prediction to a study of chaos. "Sure, you can predict that it will be warmer in the summer than in the winter. That's a simple broad fact we have learned from measuring weather over time but when you start asking specific questions like 'what will be the soil moisture content during the planting season?' well, that would be impossible," he said. "The system just gets too chaotic after a while because there are too many variables. That's why no one can predict the weather a month in advance." What makes the atmosphere complex are the invisible chemicals - manmade or otherwise - that produce weather patterns. Just as important as the sunshine and the clouds, those gases, called "greenhouse gases," collect under the troposphere, a low ceiling in the atmosphere. They accumulate, trapping heat that warms the Earth. Scientists call this the "greenhouse effect" because like the glass roofing of a greenhouse, these gases allow sunlight in but prevent it from escaping.

Since the beginning of the century, the level of those gases has increased substantially and the planet's temperature has risen. The scientific community is united on this point. What divides them is over what will happen next. Hansen and others believe that at the current rate, the Earth's temperature could rise three to six degrees (F) by 2050. To Hayes and McReel, the one degree increase this century seemed nominal. There logic was, push the thermostat up a degree and see if the spouse or the power company notice. But on a global scale, that average has more value. According to Hansen, a decrease of nine degrees (F) would plunge us back into the ice age leaving an ice shed a mile thick over Manhattan. Add nine degrees and the planet would be an arid desert. It seems that a shift of less than 10 degrees in either direction is all that stands between us and a lifeless planet. Skeptics dispute Hansen's findings, saying his computer simulation of the atmosphere is inaccurate. Further, those skeptics are curious why the planet - with its delicate balance - hasn't turned to sand or ice. One of the leading skeptics is Patrick J. Michaels, an atmospheric scientist from the University of Virginia. "If the planet's so damn sensitive, why are we here?" Michaels said. "Why is the planet still liquid and not an ice ball?" Michaels is joined by Richard S. Lindzen, an atmospheric scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in his skepticism. Both believe that Hansen and his supporters have been using hollow data to make their argument. One key ingredient, water, has been excluded from many of the computer

simulations of the atmosphere because of the complexity of the data. On a planet where 70 percent of it is covered with water, that's an important ingredient to be leaving out. "Has there been an increase? We don't know," Lindzen said. "We don't know because the greatest greenhouse gas - water vapor - hasn't been measured." Of course, Hansen disagrees with Lindzen and Michaels, believing that they've been corrupted by special interest groups. However, Hansen admits that his computer research has flaws but the science is improving. Further, Hansen said that while the planet has experienced shifts in temperature that have allowed for the Ice Age and dinosaurs, those climates were created naturally. This time, manmade pollution is the cause and the warming trend must be researched.

Rolling the Cosmic Dice

On the corner of 112th Street and Broadway, just four blocks from the gates of Columbia University, stands a New York City landmark. To many, Tom's Restaurant is famous because its facade and neon sign have starred for years on "Seinfeld," an American sitcom. Few realize that the building, Armstrong Hall, is part of Columbia University and has been home to a NASA laboratory for nearly 40 years. The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies was opened in 1960 as a public relations office but today, under James Hansen, its director, it has become a center for atmospheric research. The tiny lab has 40 scientists working on the issue of global


warming among other issues dealing with sky. Most of the labs funding comes from the federal government. In 1996, the United States government invested $2 billion in the science. Most of that money went for research, launching satellites, and lofting weather balloons around polar ice caps. At NASA GISS, the scientists take the information and plug it into in supercomputers to measure climate changes. Ultimately, they hope to further an understanding of the warming trend. Hansen describes global warming this way: It's more about extreme weather being more extreme. In fact, he believes that media accounts have misrepresented his and other research of global warming and that generally, the public doesn't understand the issue. "I realized that many people would misunderstand it the next time the temperature in a given season was colder than normal," he said. "In this case, the attention drawn to the greenhouse effect may have done more harm then good." In other words, global warming doesn't necessarily mean that New York City will soon be experiencing Miami-like weather all-year-round. Instead, Hansen believes that both cities will, on average, see an increase in the frequency of warmer seasons. "Even though climate fluctuates chaotically, greenhouse warming should load the climate dice enough for the informed layman to notice an increase in the frequency of warmer than normal seasons," he said. In other words, instead of having one mild season per decade, there could be two or three. Last winter, for example, the climates in New York and New England were very mild.


Colin Marquis, a meteorologist at The Weather Channel, attributed the warm season to an anomaly in the atmosphere that trapped the mild weather over the region. "Normally, a weather pattern goes in six week cycles but for some reason the weather patterns have been especially stagnant," he said. "That's why New York's winter has been especially temperate." The cycles, he said, extended to six months. Was it global warming? Marquis was skeptical but could not explain the warming trend either: "I have no idea what caused it.... But I don't know of anyone who can give you an idea." So, what about the informed "layman" as Hansen said. Are they noticing? There's at least one: a retired chicken farmer from Long Island.

Clues in the Sky, the Sand, the Surf

Standing near the platform of an outdoor train station, Richard G. Hendrickson, an 84 -year-old chicken farmer and weatherman, waits. He raises the cap from his head, rubbing long weathered fingers over his scalp as commuters walk around him and off into Bridgehampton. Few realize that he is a watchman of sorts. For most of his life, Hendrickson has carefully measured the weather for this tiny hamlet on eastern Long Island. During that time, he has seen the ocean creep in, average temperatures rise and "nor'easters" tear across this narrow fork of sand jutting 125 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean. To him, these are dangerous climate changes, all symbols of global warming.


For over 60 years he's collected data that makes him believe the Earth is warming. His figures match those taken by leading scientists around the country: "I have seen an increase of one degree in 100 years. Now, does that mean that in 500 years that we are going to have a climate that is going to be five degrees hotter than we have now?" he said. "In that climate, the plants we grow now won't grow." Hendrickson is a tall man, stooping now after years of tending to hens that waddle a mere 15 inches above the earth. His face is ruddy and rough like a jagged cut of granite, sandy with flecks of red spots - skin cancer - brought on by years of unshielded sunshine. He has a tightly cropped mustache and wears glasses and dresses in flannel and tan dungarees. Retired now, having sold all his chickens in 1976, he's lived off the value of his land and indulges in other passions including collecting antique guns. He also continues to take weather readings for National Weather Service, something he's done since 1930. As a weatherman and casual observer watching the shifting changes on Long Island's south fork, Hendrickson's conclusions on global warming are at best, raw. He has no scientific degrees and actually dropped out of high school at 16. He does, however, have a lifetime of experience walking over the same shorelines and 67 years of reading weather gauges for the government. Based on his raw weather data and his observations of the ever-shifting coastline, he makes a rather convincing argument that the weather on the east end of Long Island is changing. A change, he believes could be disastrous.


"Due to the pollution in our upper atmosphere, there will be more tropical storms and many of them will be of higher intensity than those we've had in the past," he said. "What's going to happen to Long Island? It's going to wash it away." To make his point, he pointed to a bluff standing a quarter mile away, looking down over his dormant 45 acre farm: "Over there by those hills, that will be the waterfront and the rest will be under water." He was so compelled by his conclusions that the ecological balance on his bit of Long Island had been dangerously altered that he wrote a book about it. The 300 page text, called Winds of the Fish's Tail, an unpolished collection of historic information, weather data, and photographs of the Long Island coastline before and after the effects of erosion and storms. His figures parallel conclusions made by internationally renown experts on global warming. His book is a microcosm of the global problem. It's a biography of the weather in Bridgehampton, a small resort town 100 miles east of New York City. "We've got the changes of seasons four times a year," he said. "And it never gets 20 below zero like in other places." The reason is the coastal effect. Bridgehampton is surrounded by water on three sides and the ocean makes the weather mild the year around. In his book, the weather information tells an interesting story. He reports that the average temperature for his community is 51 degrees, which is 1 degree above what it was at the beginning of the century. That echoes findings made on the global scale.


Wind speed has also increased. Hendrickson said that the average wind speed on his end of Long Island has increased from 9 mph to 15 mph. Faster winds have accelerated soil erosion on the island, he said. "There's a saying among the farmers here that the top three inches of Long Island have blown away into the ocean since the white man took over from the Indians," he said, adding that the added wind is also tearing away at the shoreline. "Mother Nature can't rebuild the sand dunes so we're losing six to seven feet of ocean front every year. That adds up." His book also documents a warming trend. In it is a graph showing the number of 90 degrees days for each year this century. During the first 30 years of the century, Bridgehampton averaged one day annually; today that average is up to three days. These are the statistics gathered by Hendrickson, information that the National Weather Service has relied on for nearly a century and they merely said that Bridgehampton has a shifting weather system. Or so says a chicken farmer with a quirky understanding of the weather and a memory for patterns in the sand dunes along the Atlantic Ocean. But is this proof of global warming? Hansen, the expert, thought so.

Sunny, Soggy and the Rising Tide


Hansen explained that weather is merely the transfer of water and heat from one region to the next. This process begins with evaporation, clouds form, the jet stream blows them eastward and the water vapor turns to rain. To him, turning up the heat only speeds up the process. Like with a pot of water, turning the heat up causes the water to rise to a steam a little faster. On the planet, the increased heat means the desert regions will hold water less; wetter regions will see more rain. Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at National Center for Atmospheric Research at Boulder, Colo., summed it up this way: "water vapor is the great air conditioner of our planet," he said, believing that global warming makes this cooling process more pronounced. "Most of the heat from global warming goes into evaporating water which makes the water vapor very dynamic," Trenberth said. "With the warming, it is going to evaporate quicker, so the droughts are also going to be occurring quicker." The increase in average temperature means the air at ground level warmer which causes moisture in the soil to evaporate faster. To farmers, this is especially dangerous because it reduces the time for crops to drink the water. The other end of the water cycle also suffers. Once in the atmosphere, the water vapor blows off towards the Gulf of Mexico. The added water means heavier rains and the increase chance of flooding. "You get heavier rains because there's more moisture around," he said. "This is what we mean when we say that global warming makes the natural events a little more extreme."


Under the worst of cases, farmers would have to move further north away from the drier climates. People settled along river banks will have to move to higher ground to adjust for a river that may swell beyond its banks. The economic impacts could be disastrous. Scientists also say sea level is rising. This occurs because the increased temperature melts glaciers and the polar ice caps, and the added heat causes ocean waters to expand. Since the beginning of the century, sea level along the east coast has risen 15 inches, according to Bruce Douglas, of the Laboratory for Coastal Research. Like so many other aspects of measuring weather, sea level is an arbitrary measurement - with low and high tides - but when the average tide rises dramatically, their is substantial coastline erosion. "When the tide comes it, it pulls at the shoreline like a claw," Douglas said. "The higher the tide, the stronger the claw pulls away at the sand." So what's the damage? "Imagine you're building a building with a 30 year lifetime. If the tide is tearing away two feet of shoreline a year, and your building is only 30 feet from the shore, your footings will be gone in half that time," he said, adding that doesn't account for strong storms. "One big storm could come along and knock that [shoreline] out in one year." On Long Island, Hendrickson has been watching the tides tear away at the Bridgehampton waterfront. One example is a submarine observation tower the Coast Guard constructed on the beach during World War II. The 50-foot-tall tower was mounted on a concrete base poured in the sand 100 feet from the ocean. Hendrickson


knew that it was a matter of time before the station was swept away in the tides. Today, only the concrete foundation remains and that can only be spotted at low tide. That erosion is going on worldwide. At Hansen's laboratory, Vivian Grnitz watches the tides and predicts the coastal future. Using Hansen's estimated increase of three to six degrees, Grnitz, a NASA geologist, simulated the coastal damage on a supercomputer. She determined that sea level could rise by another 18 inches. "It could encroach on the lands by 10 to a hundred times that much," she said. Low lying areas like the bayou country in southern Louisiana, the New Jersey and Florida coasts, the coastal plains along the Nile River in Egypt and countries like the Netherlands, the Marshall Islands, and Bangladesh would be wiped out. "If the land is low, it doesn't take much to devastate it," she said. At the very least, the rise in sea level would force people to migrate to higher ground. For impoverished countries like Bangladesh, the results could be devastating. And then there are the health aspects of a warmer climate. In 1993, the New York State Health Department had a documented case of malaria in Bayside, Queens. What made this case odd, according to Stan Kondracki, an epidemiologist with the state Health Department, was the fact that the disease was generated locally. "The air temperature has to be appropriate for the parasite to mature in this climate and it is apparent that the temperature was favorable," he said. Kondracki said that normally when the state hears of a case of malaria, it is because the patient had recently returned from a tropical climate. With the case in Queens, the air temperature in


the swamps near Bayside was warm enough to allow the malaria parasite to grow locally. A mosquito then transmitted the disease to a resident in Queens. Tom Skinner, spokesman for the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, said that cases like the Queens' case are exceedingly rare and that there have only been 76 cases reported in the United States since the 1950s. In recent years, there have been cases reported in California, Florida, New Jersey, Michigan and Texas. Dr. Paul R. Epstein from Harvard Medical School, said the cases are examples of global warming and expects that there will be an increase in tropical diseases at higher altitudes and in more temperate climates. With the case in Queens, Epstein said the fertile conditions for the parasite had to be sustained for "this to be locally transmitted. This was not somebody traveling to India and getting sick. This is someone who did not travel. This happened in the swamps near Bayside." But Kondracki doesn't expect any epidemics anytime soon. "Are we concerned that there's going to be a monstrous problem? No," Kondracki said. "But if you get a red-haired, blue-eyed cop in your emergency room, and he's got a fever and chills, chances are, the local yokel doctor isn't going to think malaria. That's what makes this dangerous."

Policy and Politics and the Gentle Butterfly


Blame it on the Industrial Revolution. Factories prospered, cars covered the highways, exhaust filled the air. During this century, the atmosphere has surged with greenhouse gases - generated by the burning of fossil fuels which have created a transparent ceiling trapping hot air near the surface of the planet. Hansen has a simple solution. Reduce the volume of greenhouses gases pouring from exhaust pipes and the warming trend will end. If the problem was isolated in the United States, maybe Hansen would have his way. But this is a global issue and affixing guilt and creating a uniform global policy are arduous tasks. In the United Nations, a debate has erupted between the developed and the emerging nations. Countries including Canada, France, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States among others are pressing for cleaner forms of industry while developing nations like Korea and Indonesia don't want limitations to slow their growing economies. Canadian Economist James P. Bruce chaired a U.N. research committee that looked at the problem. His group determined that by eliminating energy subsidies and taxing wasteful use of energy, it would be possible to clean up the atmosphere. In short, Bruce's group figured that by raising the cost of fossil fuels, industry would burn less of it. Again, a simple idea. But several countries including the United States are reluctant to rewrite public policy and the emerging nations are waiting for the U.S. to set the example. This brings the debate back to Washington D.C., where the politics are stalled by money from special interest groups. On one side, the fossil fuel industry fights changes made to tax laws; on the other, the research community argues that Congress must not cut


The Congress thought otherwise. Since Hansen's testimony evoked public interest in the issue turning global warming into a priority. The federal government responded by tripling funding for research. In 1990, for example, the federal government invested $659 million in atmospheric research initiatives, according to the U.S. global Change Research Program. By 1996, the government was investing $1.8 billion. During that period, NASA created a research program called Mission to Planet Earth, and Congress appropriated $60 million to launch the project. The idea of this proposed multibillion dollar program is to launch a constellation of satellites into the atmosphere of the Earth so that scientists can better observe the ecology of the planet. In 1996, Congress dedicated $1 billion to it, and by 2004, more than $13 billion will have been spent on Mission to Planet Earth. Michaels believes the Mission to Planet Earth project, like global warming, is a scam to perpetuate government-financed atmospheric research projects. "The real problem here, frankly, is if there wasn't so much money chasing this issue, it wouldn't be an issue," he said. "It's the money that created this issue and not visa-versa..." Hansen has accused Michaels of being short sighted and believes he's been tainted by special interest money. In fact, Michaels admits that he's taken money from the fossil fuel industry to support his research but contends that his research is pure. Somewhere the environment has gotten lost in the debate and last September, it sent another clue. After years of research, Carmille Parmesan, a biologist at University of California at Santa Barbara, released a study concluding that global warming was killing


butterflies. She believes that the Edith's checkerspot butterfly, which lives in the western states, was not adapting its reproduction patterns quickly enough to survive shifts in the climate. As a result, thousands were dying. Hearing Parmesan's conclusions, the scientific community erupted, questioning her research and her conclusions. Few thought to consider the message: In the greater evolutionary scheme of things, the butterfly is easily one of the weaker inhabitants of the planet, and literally like a canary in a coal mine, their dying could be a predilection warning us of global warming.

Down on the Farm

It's early March and a snow storm bares down on Kittery, Me. Although it's been a mild winter, Barry and Susan Hayes prepare their farm for the worst. Susan collects wood for the wood burning stove - the only source of heat for the farmhouse - and stacks a half cord in an enclosed porch. Barry Hayes wonders out to the barn to check on the livestock. His is a tiny farm, with several rows of fruit trees, and two pens filled with chickens and sheep. Outside, the 45-year-old farmer walks the hundred feet to the barn, and climbs a split rail fence into the sheep pen. Two ewes cluster around a ram. A third is hiding inside the barn. Before searching for the third animal, he takes a pitchfork and smashes through the ice sealing the top of frozen water trough. The sheep cluster around to drink as he turns and walks towards the barn.


He enters through the opening in the south side of the structure and finds the pregnant sheep lying on its side. Nearby, three dozen Rhode Island Red hens coo and cackle as Hayes kneels to look at the ewe. The temperature drops into the 20s and snow flurries fall through the opening in the barn. The sheep is in labor but looks healthy. Hayes decides the animal will survive the birth and opts not to call the veterinarian, a needless expense. In a corner of the barn, a pear-shaped bantam rooster struts through the straw ignoring Hayes. For over 200 years, the Hayes family have owned this land farming it intermittently. Barry Hayes said that his family began selling off parcels of the property to offset the taxes as southern Maine became more crowded. Hayes earns his living as a machinist at the shipyard in Kittery, he also, occasionally travels to New London, Conn., to work on submarines for the Navy. He and Susan revived the dormant farm seven years ago to add to their income, but the last several years have been rough and the couple have learned that animals are very sensitive to changes in the weather but have found a balance on their farm. "On a nice day, I'll get a dozen eggs," Susan Hayes said. "But on a shitty day, I'll be lucky if the hens will give me six. If it's really cold, they just tend to give me less." In 1993, a drought turned all the green things on their farm brown and Barry Hayes had to buy hay to keep the sheep alive, an unexpected expense. The warm weather also made the sheep more susceptible to parasites and the vet had to be brought in. "If he comes out once, it's a bad thing," Barry Hayes said because of the expense. "If he comes out twice, you're definitely in the red. Susan and I have learned to live without the vet."


And in 1996, the bitter cold killed a quarter of his flock. "Since then, we've been going away from the high maintenance kinds of sheep," Hayes said. "We want animals that are tough." Together, the couple have taught themselves how to deal without outside resources searching the last seven years for a routine and a balance. Any radical shifts in the climate - such as heavy storms or sustained drought - could mean the end of their tiny farm. But as farmers like McReel and Hayes go about their lives, the policy makers in Washington D.C. continue to allow pollution to reek havoc on the weather, ultimately loading the climate dice. To them, the weather is a mere distraction, not a way of life. To Hayes and McReel it's a lot more. On the day of the storm, Barry Hayes kept a watchful eye on The Weather Channel knowing the network would track the weather. As the barometric pressure dropped, he knew the ewe would respond to the shift in weather. "We've learned," Barry Hayes said, "that the ewes will deliver when the barometric pressure drops. When we saw the storm coming, we knew that her time was coming." That night, his premonition came true. As Barry Hayes watched, the ewe bore two kids.

The End

Michael Scully Global Warming Above Tom's Restaurant How I found it. March 23, 1997

One should be rather select when choosing a topic for the master's project. I mean, you're going to be married to this subject matter for the next six months, you might as well select something you enjoy. I decided that I wanted to write about science, technology, business and government. I also figured that I would pick a public topic because this would grant me immediate access to the reference material. With this understanding, I began looking for a topic in New York City first by searching the research laboratories on the campus and later by using the Internet. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a NASA laboratory above Tom's Restaurant, just a few blocks from Columbia. Knowing that the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies would be my lead into the project, I decided to find out what sort of research they do there. This is the center for global warming research, and the director, James Hansen, made the issue a public one. I contacted him by e-mail immediately and began punching his name into the Nexis directory. For the next three months, I gathered information on global warming, Hansen and developed a source list of every scientist whose name appeared in an article on the issue. I also called Washington and began working the lobbyists. One key source was Ozone Action, which fights to protect the ozone layer. Although this is an entirely

different issue, I asked them for potential sources and began contacting them. It didn't take me long to find out that the arguments over global warming have divided the science community. In December, I began my first draft. Initially, I thought that I would use a doctoral student's work on aerosols as the lead into the piece: "here is a young scientist who could solve the problem in the future...." but the draft turned out to be painfully dry. My advisor, Ken Brief, told me that "it put [him] to sleep" and that I needed to find some other way of making this piece interesting. Not an easy task. I asked myself "what people are most influenced by the weather?" and started interviewing farmers. I put a request out on the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism chat group asking for farmers. I got four responses and called most of them. I finally settled with Shaler McReel, a 39-year-old farmer from New Hampshire. His tour of New England inspired some of my better writing and he became the lead subject of my piece. I also got lucky. While cold-calling farming sources on Long Island, I uncovered an 84-year-old chicken farmer who had been recording weather information for the National Weather Service. Turns out, this old codger had 60 years of data and was so inspired by his finds that he wrote a book about the weather in the Hamptons. In late January, I climbed on the Long Island railroad, and although I was very ill, found my way out to Bridgehampton, N.Y. to talk to this guy. As I stepped off the train, I looked into his eyes and saw a good portion of my story. There's nothing like a weather beaten man to tell you a good story about a changing climate. Just to look at him, I knew that Richard Hendrickson had a good story to tell.

Together, we drove out to his farm, he served me fresh chicken and looked at his weather data. Although this guy dropped out of high school at 16, he had enough life experience to talk about the changing climate. His research helped me tell the story of global warming. The Internet was also a remarkable resource. During my research, I read a story about a scientist in southern California and after several telephone calls, decided to contact her by e-mail. She sent me a summary of her research on global warming and this too ended up in the piece. Ultimately, if had to describe the process, I would offer this advice. Use all the technical resources available. You will find that the Internet and Nexis are amazing resources for information. But don't rely too heavily on technology. A few hours on the telephone will give you a lot of useful quotes but there's nothing better than standing toeto-toe with a subject to really get the meat of story. The rest is just luck and imagination.

Good luck,

Michael Scully