Photo: roland under a Creative Commons license.
The effects of Hurricane Irene are still being felt long after the storm's passing. As we start gearing up for Halloween, it turns out there's a major glitch in the plans, the AP reported: a severe pumpkin shortage. Irene did major damage to farms in the Northeast, destroying hundreds of pumpkin patches. Predictably, the shortage has led to the doubling of wholesale prices of the pumpkins that have survived.To make things worse, unusually heavy rains delayed the planting of pumpkins in the first place, reducing the number that could be harvested in time for October 31. More rain in mid-August brought the phytophthora fungus to many fields, and this week a cold snap threatened to kill even more of the pumpkins that have made it this far.
Bottom line: crazy weather might cancel Halloween for New York and its neighbors. So this looming crisis begs the question- will we have to cancel Halloween? What will the holiday be without carving Jack O'Lanterns and knocking back pumpkin spice margaritas? How much will people be willing to pay for a pumpkin?
But more importantly, is there something behind all this bizarre weather? We know that climate change doesn't cause hurricanes like Irene, but it does make them much stronger. And it's important to remember that global warming is something of a misnomer- "global weirding" might be the better name.