What will 2019 bring?
By Jim Poling Sr.
Published Jan. 10, 2019
The New Year opened with so many questions:
Will the global economic turmoil become a recession? Will western Canadian oil be given a stable delivery system to world markets where it can be sold for true market value? Will the trend to populace politics create more chaos? Will Pinocchio Trump move from the White House to a U.S. penitentiary?
The list is lengthy, but the most important question in my mind is what will happen with the weather. Opinions range from “global warming is a China-inspired hoax” to “the world will dry up and blow away within the next 30 years.”
The best way to find an answer to the weather question is to look for facts. I am aware that looking for facts is considered old-fashioned these days, but I still find it helpful.
First, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently reported that the last four years of global temperatures have been the hottest on record. Also the 20 warmest years on record all occurred in the last 22 years.
October just passed was the 406th consecutive month in which global temperatures were above normal. There is no official final data for November yet, but it appears that it too will be above average, making it the 407th consecutive month.
That means that anyone under 33 years old never has experienced a cooler-than-average month of global temperatures.
So what’s ahead for 2019 weather? Some scientists are concluding that this year will be the hottest ever recorded in human history.
The U.S. Climate Prediction Centre says there is an 80 per cent chance that a full-fledged El Niño already has begun and will last at least until the end of February. El Niño is a weather phenomenon in which parts of the Pacific Ocean warm and cause weather chaos, including a warmer-than-usual winter in much of Canada.
The documented trend to warmer world temperatures combining with an El Niño is the reason why some science professionals say this year will be the hottest ever.
More warmth is something the world does not need.
Rising temperatures have increased droughts, wildfires, and more violent weather in general. The World Meteorological Organization reports 70 tropical cyclones or hurricanes during 2018, far above the annual average of 53.
These violent weather events cause agricultural losses, which are followed by malnutrition, then large migrations of people seeking more stable living conditions. These migrations create moral and political quandaries – do you build walls and pens to keep displaced people off your turf, or do you work to fix the things causing them to be displaced?
Newspapers and television news shows have been filled with reports of weather disasters in recent years. Most of them have been in far off places like Europe, California, and the U.S. south. But we are seeing weird weather changes – although not as violent or dramatic – right here at home.
The past fall and current winter in Haliburton have been among the most bizarre in memory. There was some precipitation – rain or snow – on 27 of 30 days in November and 24 of 31 in December.
December had rain on 10 days, almost double the average for that month.
There have been eye-popping temperature anomalies as well. Temperatures in November ranged from minus 26 Celsius to plus 14. December temperatures ranged from minus 24 to plus nine.
The wild temperature swings have continued into the New Year. Already this month we have seen a couple lows in the minus 20s and three or four days above freezing.
Weather ups and downs are not unusual. We’ve seen them before in the Haliburton-Muskoka region. However, looking at data from the last 10 years, there is evidence that our climate is changing.
The first effects of changing climate are being seen by skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers and others who enjoy winter sports.
How climate change will affect other seasons remains to be seen. The wild winds, droughts and fires seen in other parts of the world would be a serious threat to our most important natural resource – our trees.
This week at a lake just south of Minden I saw a soft maple budding. Budding in mid-winter is unhealthy and a sign that all is not right in the natural world.