On Saturday March 29th we commemorated another Earth Hour. From 8:30-9:30 local time, we shut off lights in an attempt to help the planet breath a sigh of relief. In 2007, a movement was started in Sydney, Australia to bring awareness to the ever growing concern of Global Warming. And please understand that Global Warming means way more than just the temperature of the earth going up. Believe it or not rising temperatures is the reason we have more intense weather patterns and more snow. Yes even more snow is because of warming temperatures on earth.
Quickie refresher of high school science. Moisture is collected from the surface of the earth by evaporation. Collecting in clouds and then falling as precipitation. Rain or snow depending on the season. An increase in the sun power will cause an increase in the amount of evaporation. And it has to fall in the form of rain or snow or a combination of.
And yet, every time that an uncharacteristic cold snap or snow fall occurs people jump on the "So where is the Global Warming Now" band wagon. It frustrates me, partly because these are fairly intelligent people and partly because there is even one person who considers this mentality as valid. Where is Global Warming when we find ourselves bracing for yet another Snow-pocalypse? It is right outside your frost covered thermal paned window. It is the intensity and instability of the weather patterns we once thought were normal. Global Warming caused Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The frequency and intensity of naturally occurring storms is multiplying at alarming rates. Hurricane Juan hit Nova Scotia in September 2003. The province was barely recovered from the that slap by Mother Nature when she let White Juan loose in February 2004. White Juan left behind 95.5 cm of snow in Halifax in one 24 hour period. That's 37+ inches. More than the yard stick that decorated the blackboard ledge in school. Three feet! Half the average persons height!
But even that was several years ago now. What amazes me more than that storm is the fact that although wind gusts of 124 km/hr were reported, I can recall at least 4 days this past season that wind gusts reached or exceeded 100 km/hr. Almost seems norm now. Batten down the hatches indeed!
Have we gotten used to bundling up and grumbling? How about this comic relief for you. In 1999, the city of Toronto (no stranger to snow) called in the Canadian Army to help it dig out when 27 cm of snow fell. That's right 27 cm. Seems a little over the top all things considered including that there was already significant snow on the ground - nothing new really. Sometimes it is not the amount of snow but the speed in which it falls that have some of us with the shovel at the ready feeling over-whelmed. Where do you put it all? Check out this link for some remarkable, record setting storms that have hit the Winter Wonderland known as Canada.
I don't mind snow and despite all the dire warnings that had us shivering in our boots in fear more than cold, I think that here (at least) it was a fairly mild winter. A snowfall/blizzard would close schools and snarl traffic for a day and my friends would hear the doomsday predictions and send message to prepare and stay safe and warm. Snow would fall, clogging streets and usually blowing to make things barely visible past the edge of the balcony. Two days later we would be in plus zero temperatures and everything would be melting away. Only one day did I turn back from a walk because the wind chill was freezing my eyes. And there were a few days in January where just a light jacket if anything was required.
I get winter. I grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. School wasn't cancelled, you walked. There was a lot of activities that you could participate in and enjoy more with the falling of snow. Snowmobiling, skiing, tobogganing, making ice forts, ice mountains to slide down (skeleton without the sled and helmet). Everybody had several pairs of mittens and long johns and Nipigon nylons. You wouldn't think about going out without being properly dressed for the conditions. We embraced winter and all it had to offer.
It is increasingly hard to do that when ski hills are closing because the seasons unpredictability just couldn't support them as viable businesses. Neither could the economy where people didn't have the exorbitant costs to involve entire families in sport. Plus electronics and modern conveniences mean there isn't a lot of need to venture out. So we don't. It's easier to curse under our frozen breaths then to go out and enjoy the cloud that landed on earth. I spoke to someone from Iceland recently who suggested that we were all wimps here. Life didn't stop for a few snowflakes. Chains were put on tires and schools and businesses stayed open. Just another day with more solid precipitation.
The winter of this generation sucks. Cold is one thing, wind chill is another. You can dress for and play in 3 feet of snow. Wind chill and freezing rain gets right to you bones and crystallizes your blood. When it's a real winter, it's cold and you can dress for it. When you have a thaw mid season, you pine for the heat as if the season ended, then Mother Nature's fury hits again. It's miserable to walk in slush that soaks your socks and the ice that has come with the freeze the next day. Ain't no boot that is waterproof enough for that or provides the grip for ice rinks. That's why we skate :)
|Several days after the ice on-slaught, |
these branches well exposed to sunlight
are still thickly coated in the Greater Toronto Area.
Memories are short and people like to remember the winter of 2009-10 because it was the winter that wasn't. We got used to not having a real winter. When it came back this year, we had been lulled into a sense of complacency and we weren't ready for the severity. I don't think that it helps when weather forecasters and the media hype up a bit of a snowfall by using words like Snow-mageddon, Snow-pocalypse, Snow-icane or Weather Bomb. Oh wait, so accustomed we have become to the hype and panic started by the media meteorologists that when I heard of the Weather Bomb on it's way, I assumed it was more of the same. That one though, is a legitimate phenomenon and can occur with snow or rainfall. Another new weather phrase that we added to our daily lexicon this year is Polar Vortex. The Polar Vortex of 2014 swept central Canada and held it in its icy grips with fingers that reached far into the southern states that didn't know how to deal with the flurries that ultimately caused traffic and travel nightmares and general chaos. So remarkably cold was this winter that a contest was held to determine the worst in the country. The link has some great graphics, information and reveals the winner. Spoiler alert it is Winnipeg also know as Winterpeg!
|One day in the winter of 2013-2014 there were weather|
warnings posted across the county - simultaneously!
So all you naysayers who poo-poo Global Warming, just remember that Mother Nature is fictitious, the February scapegoat (groundhog) is just a rodent and the seasons will continue to change and worsen. Autumn extends into winter, winter is still hear and we call it spring. Summer starts later and goes past the traditional fall season. Mud-slides that shouldn't be will, tornadoes will be more frequent and stronger. Winter wear and tools will be needed in the southern states, and we will soon need SPF 100 in the sun. It wasn't that long ago that you could go outside and play all day in the sun with no sunscreen and not get burnt. Now 10 minutes max and your fried.
I was disappointed with the lackluster attitude towards Earth Hour this year. I did my part, but what we really need is a collective attitude adjustment. A lifestyle change. It has always been an important issue for the me (the wasteful abuse of the planet and its resources), so I made a lifestyle choice. Lights were rarely left on in unoccupied rooms when my kids were little, because I chose to teach them to shut them off. It's a habit that we can learn. They did. I won't suggest we were perfect but we tried. It's a start.
credit where credit is due: