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Autumn Equinox

Today is officially the beginning of fall, but it won’t look like the photo above in Redding CA until November. The autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere will be at 1:02 PM on Friday, September 22, 2017. Twice a year (the vernal equinox in March and the autumnal equinox in September) hours of night and day are equal as the sun’s rays shine directly over the earth’s equator.

As humans, we may only notice how dark it is in the early morning; leaves start to change colors; autumn fruits start to ripen; fewer very hot days; or we again have periodic rain after a dry summer, but if we are really paying attention we would also notice that animals, insects and birds as well as plants are affected by the changing seasons.

People who study phenology (plant and animal life cycles) look at seasonal changes in the natural world in terms of interactions between plant and animal species. Phenology is a “leading indicator” of climate change impacts. As we study how plants and animals respond to seasonal changes throughout the globe it can help us predict whether those populations will grow or shrink and if our eco-systems are out of balance. Animal and bird migration are among the most sensitive biological responses to climate change.

Across the world fall events are happening later than they did in the past; spring events are coming earlier and there are anomalies of late spring freezes or heavy rain. This year we experienced the hottest recorded summer for the north State.

Upsets in eco-balances and an increase in extreme weather events are the result from changing climates. And yes, scientists are unanimous that global warming is the result of human-caused activity, largely by adding more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds “very high confidence that climate change is already affecting living systems.

There are other interpretative meanings of the equinox, but don’t expect the world to end unless our President’s bellicose words Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly precipitates a nuclear war with North Korea.