Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Skating on Thin Ice in Winnetka

I'd never heard of Winnetka, Illinois until yesterday. It seems the worthy residents are reluctant to spend as much as $750,000 for a system to guarantee winter ice at their outdoor skating rinks. Triblocal reports:
a 2008 Winnetka Caucus survey polled members on the subject. It asked if residents would support a $700,000 to $750,000 “removable ice system” at Indian Hill Park. Of the 1,170 people who responded, 73 percent voted against it. 
Sensible folks, but where does the drive for such a project originate?
Global warming presents a potentially dire future for Winnetka, warns a Park District report.
“This would obviously mean the end of outdoor (ice) skating in Winnetka,” the report says.
Citing the threat posed by global warming, the Winnetka Park District is investigating ways to continue providing outdoor ice skating should winters become shorter. And it would only cost the district $450,000 – less if it just rents a global warming-resistant rink, instead of buying its own.
Now we have it - "the threat posed by global warming". Where did notice of this threat originate? The state government? The federal government? The local weather bureau? The IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) 2007 report? "A regional climate model? No - a report on "global warming" in the Wall Street Journal (I can't find a link).
The report cites a June 16 Wall Street Journal article about global warming that said “Chicago’s weather could someday resemble Hunstville, Ala.”
Indeed it could, but it could also resemble Vostok station, Antarctica, as it once did when Chicago was under about one thousand metres of ice, during the last ice age. An investor who wishes to buy or sell shares will examine the price record for the shares. Let's examine (as the Park Board should have) the winter temperature record for Chicago (14 miles to the south) and similarly situated on the shore of Lake Michigan:

Winter (Dec-Feb) 1991 - 2011 Trend = -2.02 degF / Decade

The average winter temperature (with two exceptions) has been below freezing over the last 20 years, and that looks like a distinct downward trend to me, but then I'm not a WSJ reporter. However, if I was a Winnetka taxpayer, I'd hang on to my money.

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