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noteA Teacher Notes: "A Summer Day in April?"

I’ve been musing all morning about an angry post I read on Facebook about the behaviour of our local weather broadcasters. The poster used all capital letters (the equivalent of shouting in text form) to say this: “We are NOT HAVING BEAUTIFUL WEATHER.” He went on to note that fires are already burning in northern British Columbia. Temperatures there are, as here, far above normal for this time of year. Trees and forests are already drying out as we prepare for another fierce and difficult fire season.

And, who can forget the pall of forest fire smoke that settled over Vancouver last summer that lead to health warnings and, at the least, made things very uncomfortable in the city for well over a week. That, combined with last year’s relentless drought in our normally rainy city, was worrisome for all. At my house, my wife decided to reseed our lawn but found that the ground was still rock hard from last year—water pools now beside my back stairs from this compacted soil, something that’s never happened over the past 30 years.

The news is bad all over. Yet, at the same time, we behave much like the proverbial ostrich with our heads buried in the sand. Houston Texas, suffering from a “blocked” jet stream that directs tropical moisture at the city, had over 400 mm of rain on Monday and Tuesday in some areas. To understand how much this is, relate it to Vancouver’s annual rainfall of about 1450 mm. That’s 1/3 of our annual rainfall in two days!

Droughts in Africa are severe and ongoing. India faces weeks of dangerously warm 45-degree weather. Meanwhile, rather than speaking to us about the danger such early warm weather represents to our ecosystems, the broadcasters go on about how “gorgeous” the weather is these days. Yes, it was nice to sit for hours, in shorts and a t-shirt, after dinner last night in our garden. But no, it is not something I expect in mid-April.

We face an uncertain future. And, it seems to me, willfully ignoring such stunning and rapid changes to our climate, makes disastrous consequences even more likely. Tomorrow, world leaders will sign an agreement agreeing to trying to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. That’s unlikely to succeed, based on what we’ve done already to our atmosphere, sorry to say.



—April 21, 2016


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