A fine demonstration of unpredicted consequences

Global climate change has freaky outcomes. I wouldn’t have predicted that warming Minnesota would freeze septic tanks.

Frozen septic systems are emerging as an unexpected consequence of climate change in Minnesota — one that is bedeviling homeowners across the state and could soon cost taxpayers more for the repair and maintenance of fragile rural roads.

The cause is a dramatic long-term decline in insulating snow early in November and December. Combined with still-freezing conditions, that drives the frost line deep underground — well below septic pipes and drain fields.

So climate change → less snow → frost line goes deeper → frozen septic tanks → more septic tank pumping → heavier traffic on rural roads → rising road repair costs.

What other unforeseen effects are going to hit us in the future?


  1. DonDueed says

    What other unforeseen effects are going to hit us in the future?

    I can’t imagine. By definition.

  2. says

    Dunno about freezing septic tanks but southern Australia has just endured a record breaking 3 day heat wave. 36-38 degrees C around here in fucking April, ffs. And of course very low precipitation to go with it.

  3. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Whaddaya mean global warming? Septic tanks are freezing! Explain THAT!!

    Hell, I was in Minnesota last week and it snowed like 8 inches. My anecdote trumps (heh) all those stupid weather scientists!

  4. Paulino says

    I don’t get it. Why climate change leads to freezing skeptics and placing them in tanks?

    I swear I read “skeptic tanks”, my brain must be conditioned to read “climate change” followed by “climate skeptic”.

  5. says

    I think a lot of global warming problems will be like that. Not huge disasters and dramatic changes, just little things that get progressively worse, cost more and more, and drain our resources. The world won’t end, it’ll just get worse.

  6. jack16 says

    Expect insulating blankets (bubble wrap perhaps?) and septic tank heaters.


  7. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    A few years ago here in Chiwaukee, we had bare ground in the middle of winter, and a sub-zero (Fahrenheit) cold snap drove the frost line downwards. This froze some water inlet pipes (mostly more recent installations) that weren’t buried deep enough. We had a long cold snap this year, but since there was a layer of insulating snow on the ground, no real problems resulted.

  8. billyjoe says

    That snow has insulating properties sounds counter-intuitive, but if you’re ever lost in the snow, dig a snow cave, get in, and cozy up. The cave protects you from the wind; the cave walls reflect back your own radiated heat; and the cave prevents the heat that you transmit to the surrounding air from being convected away. It can be the difference between life and death.

    Before the kids came along we used to do a lot of snow camping. One time there was an unexpected blizzard overnight and, in the morning, we were woken by by the sound of dozens of snow mobiles. Two young lads had wondered off the trail the evening before and become lost. They were found a few hours later frozen to death on top of the snow. They didn’t know about snow caves.

  9. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says


    I swear I read “skeptic tanks”,

    You were certainly mistaken, but not because there’s never a connection between skeptics and shit.

  10. says

    *Waves at Lofty (@3) from Perth, WA, where it’s predicted to reach a crashing high of 22C today.*

    Could we all please remember Australia occupies approximately the same land area as the continental USA, and not all of this country is New South Wales and Victoria? We promise we’ll let you t’othersiders have the cold weather just as soon as we’re finished with it here in Western Australia. (Trust me, if I could pack it up and ship it to you, I would.)

  11. numerobis says

    22 is cold?

    Where I live, the highest temperature recorded last year was a shade over 19. With climate change, we should get heat waves up to 23 degrees by the end of the century.

    More importantly, in winter we usually get some lows around -42. Climate change will pull that up to -35, which will help keep our shit thawed. Six inches of foam is apparently not enough insulation, I’ve had to call the plumber twice.

  12. says

    Meg Thornton @15, yeah thanks for that, the cool weather has just hit Adelaide. Just saying though that ’twas hot in WA’s south eastern regions too. Eucla hit 42C on Monday…

  13. billyjoe says

    Lofty, you must be the cold meat in the sandwich. Here in Victoria it’s been mid to high twenties for weeks. Only problem is no rain. We’ve lost two trees out back