Rain, rain, go away — and take the global warm­ing myth with you

Calgary Herald - - LETTERS ETC. - BRON­WYN EYRE Bron­wyn EyrE is a colum­nist with thE saska­toon star PhoEnix.

I know it’s fu­tile to com­plain about the weather. But are weather re­searchers fair game?

Last week, it was re­ported a Univer­sity of Regina pro­ject, led by Prof. Dave Sauchyn, was be­ing awarded $1.25 mil­lion from the In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Re­search Cen­tre (IDRC) to study the role of cli­mate change in nat­u­ral dis­as­ters on the Prairies.

“Cli­mate is a pat­tern. One event is weather,” Sauchyn said. “But if you get a bunch of these (weather in­ci­dents) from across the Prairies and it hap­pens again and again, we say, ‘Some­thing is go­ing on.’ And it’s prob­a­bly cli­mate change.”

Sounds a bit like witchcraft rea­son­ing to me.

Look: If there’s a clear pat­tern of global warm­ing — sorry, “cli­mate change” — that can be proven with­out skul­dug­gery or ob­fus­ca­tion, most of us will be will­ing to do what it takes to rec­tify things. But in­creas­ingly, it seems, “ex­perts” are claim­ing wacky weather sim­ply to ad­vance an agenda.

A few trees up­rooted and hail storms in On­tario this week? Must be cli­mate change. The same goes for the re­cent floods in Que­bec and Man­i­toba and tor­na­does in the U.S. Even the Ja­panese tsunami elicited a few “cli­mate change” prog­noses.

Which re­minds me of a com­ment of Henry Kissinger’s I read the other day.

No, the world’s most fa­mous diplo­mat hasn’t ven­tured into the global warm­ing de­bate. He was talk­ing about China: “For the Chinese, his­tory is part of cur­rent re­al­ity. For Amer­ica, cur­rent re­al­ity usu­ally be­gins with the per­cep­tion of a prob­lem we are

tor­na­does in the U.s. Mid­west were worse in the 1930s — not to men­tion the con­ti­nen­twide, Dirty ’30s drought

try­ing to solve now.”

Sounds a lot like the ex­tremeweath­er­meis­ters. Sure, it’s a dif­fer­ent con­text. But in weather as in ev­ery­thing else, cur­rent re­al­ity isn’t ev­ery­thing. The past in­forms the present.

The fact is, tor­na­does in the U.S. Mid­west were worse in the 1930s — not to men­tion the con­ti­nen­twide, Dirty ’30s drought.

Some res­i­dents of north­east Ja­pan are the third gen­er­a­tion to have ex­pe­ri­enced tsunamis.

And the re­cent flood­ing around Lums­den, Sask., for ex­am­ple, was as bad in 1974.

Bri­tish weather fore­cast­ers re­cently pre­dicted this sum­mer could be as hot as the fa­mously hot sum­mer of 1976. This win­ter, De­cem­ber was the cold­est and snowiest in Bri­tain in 30 years. Dur­ing the “lit­tle ice age,” a pe­riod of cool­ing be­tween 1150 and 1850, peo­ple skated on the Thames.

Could it be the weather’s al­ways been a bit wacky and prone to pe­ri­ods of ex­tremes?

On­tario may have roasted last sum­mer, and a 40 C day there last week in­evitably made the evening news.

But the prov­ince has al­ways been prone to high heat. When I lived there in the early ’80s, I re­mem­ber high, muggy heat ev­ery day.

Of course, it used to boil here, too.

But nowa­days, lo­cal TV weather re­porters em­bla­zon fore­casts for 22 C with bright sun la­bels read­ing “Hot.” Some hot. When the sun goes be­hind a cloud when it’s 22 C, you have to find a jacket.

Cana­dian cli­ma­tol­o­gist Gor­don McBean may say, “We’ll have more hot sum- mers as the cli­mate warms. Over the past 25 years, av­er­age tem­per­a­tures have been steadily ris­ing across the coun­try.”

But last spring, Saskatchew­an ex­pe­ri­enced one of the wettest, coolest springs “on record.” The sum­mer con­tin­ued much the same, as it did across most of the coun­try.

In 2009, En­vi­ron­ment Canada re­ported that in Saskatchew­an, July was “more than two de­grees colder than nor­mal.”

Ditto for most of the spring, sum­mer and win­ter. Tem­per­a­tures in 2009 across West­ern Canada were “much cooler than nor­mal.”

Surely, “two de­grees cooler” here and “three de­grees cooler there” over huge land masses have to have some ef­fect on cal­cu­la­tions of av­er­age.

What’s the for­mula, any­way: A sim­ple heat-lostver­sus-heat-gained kind of thing?

We know sci­en­tists rely on tem­per­a­ture read­ings be­cause in the in­fa­mous “Cli­mate­gate” e-mails, they fret­ted that free­dom of in­for­ma­tion reg­u­la­tions might force them to re­veal tem­per­a­tures were ac­tu­ally fall­ing.

Ei­ther way, they’ve gotta do bet­ter than a few po­lar bears, and show us the unadul­ter­ated, em­pir­i­cal ev­i­dence.

Un­til we have such ev­i­dence, let there be a mora­to­rium on laments by the likes of fired par­lia­men­tary page Brigette DePape that we’re “de­stroy­ing the planet,” or by Green MP El­iz­a­beth May that cli­mate change is the “sin­gle largest threat.”

There are many threats in this world. But cli­mate change doesn’t ap­pear to be one of them.

As for me, I re­main cau­tiously op­ti­mistic that “global warm­ing” may some­day re­turn to the Prairies. I miss it.

Bron­wyn Eyre

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