Date of this Version
The purpose of this NebGuide is to review the facts of global warming, to point out what is sheer speculation, and to suggest why Nebraska agriculture should care about global warming.
Climatologists talk about global warming one year and the next year they talk about global cooling! Depending on the time periods involved, both views may be correct. Over the next few hundred years, the earth may undergo a general cooling trend. This trend is consistent with the regular shifts into and out of ice age conditions that have characterized the earth's climate history of the last 50,000 years. However, in the much more immediate future (100 years or less), the earth's climate may respond to the so-called "greenhouse effect," rather than the shift into cooler conditions, which may lead to warmer temperatures globally.
Some scientists say that global warming will lead to far more frequent droughts and heat waves in the Great Plains and that the major grain belts will shift northwards. Others say that, even if the climate warms, farmers will adapt so easily that no one will ever notice. The only certainty is that no one knows exactly what is going to happen to the earth's climate over the next few decades. Also, a winter that is strangely cold and snowy and followed by a summer that is cool and wet does not disprove the existence of long-term global warming. A balmy winter followed by a hot, dry summer does not prove the existence of global warming. Global warming, if it occurs, will play out over a long period of time.