These questions are not easy ones to answer, I don't imagine. Not even for a metereologist. After all, we can't control the weather here in Canada. Nor can we forecast the future of our climate change.
I think the weather has definitely changed over the years from when I was a kid.
I remember days of old……jumping into massive snowbanks, this winter it seems more like an iceage than a snowfest….until recently, that is! The nice, fluffy snow-filled, Canadian winters seem to get later and later, and sometimes don’t amount to much of a winter – compared to those that I remember. Presently, and not beginning until late Februrary, we seem to have gotten huge mounds of snow, but it is too bone-chilling and frigid to go outdoors and enjoy those mounds!
It makes it hard to do fun stuff with the kids. For example, not too long ago, the kids had a couple of friends over, and decided to go outdoors for some winter fun. I told them though not to go to the top of the hill if they were tobogganing, since they would fly down at mock twenty, and clothesline themselves at the second hill down, onto the horse fence. I let them go outside trusting that they wouldn’t go all the way to the top. I look out not more than 5 mins later, and lo and behold, they are waxing up their sleds at the top of the hill!
I opened the door, and screamed “I told you not to go to the top of the hill!” you are going to hurt yourselves!” I no sooner got the words out of my mouth, threw my coat and boots quickly on, and raced over to the hill, when I saw my 8 year old, starting down the hill, full speed on her toboggan. I couldn’t squeak the words out quickly enough, before her friend followed closely behind. My daughter managed to do fine, however, I saw her friend start down quicker, and continue on down one hill only to not stop and keep going down the other steep incline toward the horse fence. I yelled, “BAAAAIIIIIILLLLLLLLL OOUUUUUTTTTTTT”, and she musn’t of heard nor understood, as she just kept on going with panic written all over her face (and mine that she now saw). She didn’t bail, and ran straight into the fence at full speed, her sled slipping out from under her, and sliding under the fence further down the hill! She seemed fine, and managed to come out of the collision unscathed, and not the least bit upset, apart from my panicked scream at her to never do that again. I later apologized to her, but told her that her mom had trusted me to keep her safe, and that incident had almost put me into cardiac arrest. She understood, and they did not do it again.
The point is, that the winter weather is so unpredictable, and, it seems more like a scene from the movie ‘Frozen’, and less like the Canadian winters that I remember as a kid, as being snow-filled with lots of powdery and light and fluffy stuff.
Finally, just in the last month it has began to look like the old winters I experienced as a kid. However, it seems as if we have snow (and a large portion of it) all at once. It almost seemed recently, as if the sky had suddenly opened up, and a dump truck poured metres of snow atop the Canadian ground.
All of the snow seems to have come to us in February, and not beginning as an ‘atypical’ November to March steady snowfall. Also, the snow has arrived, but along with temperatures into the minus twenties and beyond!
So, what has happened to the weather over the years? Has it really changed that much, or do I just remember it in a different way, as a young girl? Should I be concerned at all?
In the late 1970s, many of the popular media outlets were reporting fearful warnings about impending climate change. An April 28, 1975 article in Newsweek began with this phrase, “There are ominous signs that the earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production"… The article went on to portray a steady decline in temperatures, which would amount to colder temperatures, and less fertile soil in which to grow sufficient food.
Then, in 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama said, “Not only is it [global climate change] real, it’s here, and its effects are giving rise to a frighteningly new global phenomenon: the manmade natural disaster”.
However the irony is this: The Newsweek article, in the 1970s was referring to global cooling, and then-Senator Obama was referring to global warming.
According to meteorologists, it is tempting for each of us to focus only on what has happened in our lifetime. However, for questions related to climate, we need to shift our perspective to a longer time frame. Have the global temperatures in the last few decades been significantly higher than in history? Unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure, since no temperature measurements are available before 1880. Scientists have tried to correlate other scientific data with global temperature, but estimating temperatures in this way are not truly factual or viable. Correlation of ice core or tree ring data to global temperatures is full of assumptions that are not waranted to be true scientific data.
Confused? It looks like we should be confused. It seems that scientists are constantly arriving at different answers and data for weather predictions now and in the future. It also seems that just when scientists are convinced that the climate is much warmer now than in the last 2,000 years, they then conclude and warn us of upcoming extreme cold and wind-chill climates never seen before!
It has also been suggested that global warming (if this even exists!) is a cause of our polluting the earth with an increase in carbon dioxide due to our burning of more fossil fuels. Yet, what the Environmental Protection Agency deems as a pollutant (carbon monoxide), other scientists deem as being essential to life on earth. It is not at all a proven fact that the small amount of carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels is destroying the environment and generating global warming. But, in the last few years, it looks as if global warming has been replaced with global cooling anyways. So, then, we need not be concerned about the future of our weather and climate here in Canada.
Confused yet again? I am.
With all of the research and data taken over the years, the only conclusion that we have is that the weather is constantly changing. Weather is variable, and out of our control. Also, it seems that with each year that passes, we get different information, from different researchers, on weather changes and opposite predictions about the future of our climate and environment. It would seem that no one really knows. And, due to this, we should not be concerned.
It was once said that “When a dog bites a man that is not news, but when a man bites a dog that is news.”Likewise, a stable climate is not news, but a dramatically changing one is. So, are we just being misinformed about the weather by people in the media who just want a 'catchy story?' Are we being led astray, and made to fear the future by people who have no real facts about the problems associated with climate changes? Or, are they really changes?
Well, here is what I think. Do not fear the future. It is not in our control, nor is the weather. In the meantime, one of our important jobs as citizens of Canada, and of the Earth, is to use our best scientific knowledge to be good stewards, and to do what we know to do to take good care of our natural resources and preserve our environment for the next generation.
In order to have peace of mind that we are doing all that we can do in order to protect our environment, we must just use our resources wisely. Our climate will not suffer for it, and will more than likely stay the same – or not.
In fact, who really knows?
Lana Kelly( B.A, SSW, ECE, Montessori). For 20 years, Lana has been dedicated to helping children and families. In 2010, she published a book (The Sheepish Lamb) , aimed at building resilience to childhood anxiety. She is a mom to four daughters, and values her faith and family solidarity.