Here it is, almost November, and it’s warm enough to go out with a light sweater or jacket. Earlier this week, people were walking around in shirtsleeves. There are still some days I can get away with not wearing socks. And then there’s that summer we had.
Tropical is the best way to describe it, I think. With the humidity it felt like the mid forties (over 100 degrees fahrenheit) most days. Even when it wasn’t terribly humid, temperatures hit the mid-to-high thirties here. With virtually no rain. Which was very bad for the farmers. Much of Ontario’s fruit was ruined this year as a result. What we did get wasn’t all that good, obviously, and it was more expensive than usual.
Last winter was also exceptionally mild, with hardly any snow. Again not good for farmers. And as much as those of us who are not winter enthusiasts may have enjoyed the
lack of cold weather, snow and ice-covered sidewalks and roads, this isn’t really good news.
What we’re seeing, and experiencing, are the effects of global warming.
When I was in fourth grade I had a geography teacher, who preached to us all the time that this would happen. That we were destroying the environment with greenhouse gases. That glaciers would melt. That the world would be subjected to more and more extreme weather events; and that some species would become extinct. She insisted that our food supplies would become threatened; and that some of the land, upon which we could live, would be lost. In our lifetime!
She brought us books to read, and maps, and all kinds of tables and graphs. It was, for the most part, totally over our heads. We were too young to absorb what she was saying (not so with today’s fourth graders who are very sophisticated about this subject). And parents complained to the school that she was scaring their kids.
It’s doubtful she’s alive today. But I’d sure like to have a conversation with her. If there is life after death, I’ll bet anything that she’s out there, somewhere, screaming at us right now: “You see! I told you so. You should have listened to me. Look what you’ve done. What a fine mess you’ve gotten yourselves into!”
And that we have.
The earth’s mean surface temperature has increased 1.4 degrees fahrenheit since the early 20th century, with about two thirds of it occurring since 1980. Scientists are more than 90% certain that we’re responsible. Yes, us. Because of our burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. Findings that are recognized by the national science academies of all major industrialized nations. It has already been calculated, for example, with high statistical confidence, that the heat waves in Texas and the 2003 European heat wave would not have occurred without global warming.
Over this century, climate change is predicted to have a negative impact on hundreds of millions of people through increased coastal flooding, reductions in water supplies, increased malnutrition; and, therefore, an increase in the impact this would cause on our health. According to the NRDC (Natural Resources Defence Council), “Scientists warn that if we do not aggressively curb climate change now, the results will be disastrous”.
So why we are not taking this more seriously is beyond me.
This is one of the most critical threats facing not just us, but generations to come. So instead of enjoying the warmer temperatures, we should fear them. And insist that our government commit to doing something about it, before it’s too late.