Worrisome weather ahead
Indeed, it has been a hot and dry summer. My records, based on Environment Canada data, show 20 daytime highs of 30 Celsius or higher and an average daytime high of 26 C.
I worry that more lie ahead, and they will be hotter and drier (or wetter depending on where you live).
This year is on course to become the 42nd consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th century average. Sixteen of the warmest years on record for the globe have occurred in the last 17 years.
This is not a simple freak event of nature, a natural climate fluctuation. This is a sustained warming. The planet’s average surface air temperature has risen almost two degrees Fahrenheit over the last 115 years.
Scientists say the warming is continuing and that more frequent and more intense extreme high temperatures are a certainty. So are extreme precipitation events that include floods and droughts.
New scientific studies say that the next five years will be abnormally warm, perhaps extremely so, and we should be preparing ourselves for a new normal in terms of chaotic weather.
We already have had a glimpse of what a new normal could bring. This year our newscasts have been filled with shocking video clips of cars floating down city streets, funnel clouds wiping out neighbourhoods and forest fires creating scenes from Hell.
If the scientists are correct, and they often are, our future daily news diets will contain even more dramatic reports.
You don’t have to believe or not believe in global warming. Just observe what is happening and think about what more weather turmoil will mean to our lives. Encourage politicians to prepare to deal with more weather disasters.
Our economy, our agriculture, our drinking water, and our health already are being affected. Studies have shown a worldwide increase in respiratory problems and deaths during abnormal heat events. (Roughly 100 Quebeckers died during heat waves in that province this summer).
The socioeconomic effects of changing climate are not hard to imagine, and like with everything else, the poor and underprivileged will suffer first and most.
There is plenty of evidence of the Arctic melting and the oceans rising. The global average sea level is seven to eight inches higher than it was in 1900. Almost one-half of that rise has occurred since 2000 and some scientists do not rule out a further rise of up to eight feet over the next 80 years.
Such a catastrophic rise would wipe out some major coastal communities. Kiss those Florida beach vacations goodbye Snowbirds?
This long-term global warming, how it might affect our lives and how we need to prepare deserves some deep thinking.
In the meantime, the immediate concern of many of us is what the coming fall and winter will be like.
Climate models show there is a 60 per cent chance of us getting an El Niño effect this fall. El Niño years see a warming of the Pacific Ocean, which often leads to warm, wet conditions across North America. La Niña years see a cooling of the Pacific and generally a worldwide cooling.
The World Meteorological Association (WMO) says the La Niña now fading was the warmest in history. That should have meant a cooler summer but this one is likely to be one of the warmest.
WMO also says there is a 70 per cent chance that we will have a 2018-2019 El Niño winter. That could mean milder temperatures in winter with periods of rainfalls, instead of snow.
All the scientific stuff indicates that while the planet is getting warmer we still will have cold winters with colder-than-normal spells. The heat will return, however, with summers getting progressively hotter.
Last winter showed some of that pattern. Some bitterly cold days, especially in December, followed by milder temperatures.
There also were what appeared to be more days of rain last winter. Environment Canada readings for the Minden-Haliburton region show it rained at least a bit on 29 days last winter. It snowed on 55 days.
It is too early for any reasonably accurate predictions for the coming winter. Meanwhile there is plenty of heat and humidity to enjoy, or not, before then.