Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sunshine and Warmth = Dread and Frustration

It has been wonderfully sunny and warm here this last week. I, like many, am awaiting the Spring with baited breath. However, this early warm weather and the flowers coming up in the gardens has mixed feelings for me. For me Spring is about renewal, everything coming alive after the cold and dark of winter gives me joy and fills me with love and life...well that is how it used to be. Increasingly, the good feelings are mixed in with feelings of dread and frustration.

DREAD because this mild winter with very little snow, crazy snow and rain storms and early spring all scream CLIMATE CHANGE. The changes I have read about in the scientific literature are becoming more and more obvious to me. One thing that really drove it home to me was this post by Sherrie over at 22 Pleasant. The snowdrops in her garden are coming up a full month earlier than they were 4 years ago! That is one week earlier per year! THAT IS A HUGE CHANGE! With very little snow and rain (so far) this year, the forests are dry and lots of forest fires are on the horizon. We saw first hand on April 30th last year right outside Halifax what that can mean for people when we had that huge forest fire in Herring Cove.
Halifax skyline on April 30th 2009. Photo from

DREAD because Canada is getting warmer. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change synthesis report (you can download it here) and book, Keeping our Cool: Canada in a Warming World by one of Canada's leading Climate Scientists Dr. Andrew Weaver (who is also on the panel) all point to increased events of severe weather, drought and fires with increased warming. Snow and rain are predicted to come in storms where lots of it is dropped all at once rather than over time (sound like this winter?). Rain events like this have been happening more often, this causes flash flooding and land slides and it doesn't soak into the ground in the forest. When you have heavy rainfall or rapidly melting piles of snow, it is just too much water all at once to be absorbed by the soil and it just runs off. You can try this with your own garden or houseplants. If you water them with lots of water too fast, your pot overflows but if you slow down the water but still give them the same amount, it soaks in. So these events don't help the dry forests...

We are also predicted to have a very HOT summer this year. I don't know about you but, I live in a second floor flat and it get unbearable sometimes... this will just cause more people to go out and get airconditioners which consume huge amounts of electricity and in Halifax, our electricity comes from more CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) feeding climate change.
Halifax's Coal Burning Power Plant.

FRUSTRATION because of the belief in the general public that this is an issue still being debated in the scientific community. THERE IS NO DEBATE IN THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY ABOUT THIS ISSUE, WE ALL AGREE THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS HAPPENING! There has NOT been one study published in the peer-reviewed literature that does not point to significant changes in almost ALL ECOSYSTEMS OF THE WORLD!!! Those who put doubt in the minds of the general public, if you dig deep enough, can all be traced back to being funded by those individuals and corporations with a vested interest in the status quo.

FRUSTRATION because of our lack of leadership in the Government. There is nothing I despise more right now than Stephen Harper's face, especially with his fake smile. We had the chance to be a leader on this issue but instead we faltered and blocked much of the progress on a global scale. Dr. Weaver goes into detail of the politics of the issue in Canada (very interesting indeed). The bottom line is that the Conservative Government DOESN'T CARE about this issue. They abolished funding agencies within the government designed to support climate change research not only in the natural sciences but also in social science. They have no goals or target and essentially ignore the issue. This is an issue that affects ALL of us and we cannot deny it any longer...when will we act? When countries run out of water? When there are food shortages because of drought? When there is war because of both food and water shortages?
Despite all of this dread and frustration there is still hope, this is what Dr. Weaver's book has instilled in me. If you haven't Dr. Weaver's book yet, get it from the library or a friend, or buy it if you have to but if you care at all about this issue or if you aren't yet convinced you absolutely NEED to read it! It explains the science in a very clear, easy to understand manner. This was written for the people, not the scientists, remember, we already know it is happening!!! It also goes in depth into the "debate" in the scientific community, the media's role in disseminating the science, the politics and the covert tactics of those with a vested interest in continuing to emit GHGs to create doubt in the general public about the issue. I think it is so IMPORTANT for EVERYONE to understand the science, media and politics of climate change. Once you do, you will no longer be able to deny or ignore it. Although this book is sad, scary and frustrating, it is hopeful and we CAN CHANGE THE COURSE OF GLOBAL WARMING but we need to force our Government(s) to ACT NOW!!

Do you think Stephen Harper would read it if I sent it to him?


  1. I'm amazed that Harper was ever elected given that no Canadian I've ever spoken to likes him (then again, I guess I could have said the same thing about Bush...must be that I hang out with certain types of people).

    The people in the sci fi writing class that I'm taking were talking about the same thing: the frustration at those who claim, nay: insist, climate change is not happening.

    You should read the letter-to-the-editor by some idiot in the April/May 2010 issue of Organic Gardening magazine. It's enough to make me want to smack him.

    You could send it to him, but does Harper know how to read (because Sarah Palin doesn't)? ;(

  2. you know, i really need to borrow that book from you.... :)

    each blog post, each bit of spreading the word makes some difference. at least, i need to believe this or the sense of hopelessness would be overwhelming.

    you are doing such a fantastic job, i would support you sending a letter to stephen harper. but like Teresa said, can he read?

  3. Thanks for this very informative post. It's good to remind ourselves "often" about these things. Every effort (big or small) on our part helps. I agree, we are all so excited to see an early Spring but it is scary when you think of why we are having such drastic changes in the weather.

  4. Excellent post Alli. Barb xo

  5. Hey Allison! I would love to borrow this book from you when you have the chance. I've been trying to get my hands on it through the HRM Book exchange but don't seem to be having much luck. Plus it would be a good excuse for us to all finally get together! ;) Hope all is well with you and Diego. I miss our get togethers! :)