Thursday, January 11, 2007

Snowbound again -- and thinking about climate change

Let's get one thing straight. I'm not complaining about the snow or the cold out here in Victoria this year. (The photo credit for the picture goes to Debra Brash, Times Colonist)

For someone raised on the Prairies, who spent a decade dealing with the miserable winters in southern Ontario, I'm totally fine with the odd snowstorm, windstorm and torrential downpour, just so long as I can keep walking the dogs without any gloves.

But I've got to admit, the difference from "normal" this year in the weather in this area is striking. It makes you wonder whether there is something larger going on, as so many people are becoming convinced of.

What seems clear enough is that our new "normal" is made up of varying levels of "extremes." Average out enough extreme events and you end up with "normal" but there's a big difference in how they feel while you're living through them, isn't there?

Here in Victoria, we had a significant dump of snow on Wednesday. It was enough to cause chaos on the roads for awhile. But more significantly, the temperature then dropped dramatically, with the result that the white stuff will stick around for a few more days, turning to ice that makes driving and walking difficult, especially since we don't own any gloves out here. Fortunately, I do have some long pants, so I'll survive.

The arrival of yet another storm spurred me to dig a little further into the question of climate change. Is it real? Are we in the middle of it? Or the end...or what?

It turned into an interesting exercise, so I thought I'd share a few of the resources I found, so you can visit them if you're interested.

As usual, I started with Wikipedia, one of my favourite sites. I still marvel at how this web-based encyclopedia, filled with user-generated content, always has something that I'm looking for. I found a fascinating treatise on the issue. It's a very long, detailed and thorough look at most of the factors involved in the question.

I also found a special website on climate change put together by the BBC.

It's broken down into 5 areas, Evidence, Impacts, Adaptation, Policies and Links & Chats. If you've never visited the BBC site, this is a good introduction. They've got a lot of very interesting features.

A few other sites of interest if you'd like more information on climate change:

The New Scientist - Special report on Climate Change.

Canadian Government view.

US government view

European Union view.

And finally, just so you don't despair that there is no hope for improvement, check out this view of climate change, from Victoria-based cartoonist Ole Heggen. The four cartoons were on the EkosTV blog.

That's a lot of information, which is one of the joys and frustrations of our information age. But wading through it is fun and interesting, especially if you're snowed in. And of course, so long as the power doesn't go off.

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