Like You Care, But…
Another pointless climate story that will freak you out and you’ll ignore it for precisely that reason
by Paul Dechene
I read two stories in the mainstream press at the outset of this unusually warm winter. They reassured us that true Canadian-style cold weather was just around the corner. Neither story had evidence on which to base their predictions - just quotes from meteorologists saying that sometimes records get broken but weather tends to revert to the average over time.
The message: Don't fret, there's nothing abnormally abnormal about our abnormal weather and things will get back to normal soon.
Only that didn't happen this winter. The number of days that hovered around the zero mark was remarkably large. And that's after yet another summer characterized by an early onslaught of torrential rains followed by a long dry stretch.
Could this be a sign of that "global warming" we've been hearing so much about?
I phoned up David Sauchyn, a professor at the University of Regina and researcher at the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative, who I'd interviewed two years ago for a pretty good piece on climate change that nobody read, and asked him what he thought about our odd weather.
"It's typical of the Prairies, just in terms of the variability," he says. "We have one of the most variable climates in the world. As to whether it's related to climate change, we can't say that. This is the weather for a single season or year."
But as with all the climate scientists I've interviewed, he followed that up with, "Having said that, it is the kind of weather we'd expect with a warmer climate. So it is consistent with our understanding of the climate system."
I like Sauchyn. I'm a bit of a climate alarmist but he's anything but. So I asked him if after two more years of really disturbing climate trends if he's more or less optimistic about the direction the globe is headed.
He says that as a scientist, he's trained to set all those fears and concerns aside. But his feelings as a citizen are another matter.
"Whether you're concerned depends on who you are. Because some people have relatively unlimited resources to deal with [the impacts of climate change]. Other people, other communities are extremely vulnerable. So I'm not concerned so much for myself and my community, which is fairly well-to-do and resilient. I'm more concerned about populations that are exposed to this but don't have the resources to deal with it, both here in Canada and especially abroad.
"And I'm most concerned for my kids, and their kids and their kids' kids."
Yeah. Me too.