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What a lot of weather

December 29, 2021

It’s something my Nana used to say. “What a lot of weather we’ve been having lately.” Ignoring the fact that whatever is going on any given day is the weather, this was clearly meant to convey there’d been a surprising amount of rain/sun/snow (or a combination of all three) recently.

What a lot of weather we’ve been having in British Columbia this year. 

First we had the “heat dome” in June. Nearly a week of temperatures at nearly 50 degrees in parts of the province and pushing 40 degrees here on the island. I spent most of that time stretched on the sofa underneath the ceiling fan, which was cranked up to full. Every window in the house that opens was opened as far as it would go, day and night. (Which led to the squirrel in the closet and the baby bats behind the fireplace.) Over 500 people died as a result of the extreme temperatures.

Although we have been having increasingly bad forest fires for some years now, the heat dome inevitably led to one of the worst fire seasons ever. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from homes they lost forever. The village of Lytton was wiped (or rather burned) off the map.

Then in November, two months after the province ended its wildfire-related state of emergency, came something of which I’d never heard: an “atmospheric river”. As I said at the time, the rain was biblical – forty days and forty nights of rain in a few days.

Farmland was flooded, homes were destroyed, highways, road and rail bridges collapsed.

The lower mainland, including the city of Vancouver and its suburbs, were completely cut off from the rest of the country. Many of the highways are still out of commission six weeks later. 

According to a report by Christian Aid, the flooding in British Columbia was the fifth most costly climate disaster in the world in 2021. It was also the most expensive in Canadian history. 

Just before the atmospheric river hit British Columbia in November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was swanning around Glasgow at Cop-Out 26. (Thank you, China and India, for your eleventh hour efforts to derail the entire agreement by threatening to walk away if all references to “phasing out coal” weren’t changed to “reducing coal consumption.”)  Trudeau loves to talk the talk on climate (and many other issues), but he never manages to walk the walk. Yes, federal aid is pouring in to help with clean up and reconstruction, but where the hell are the bold moves needed to ensure the problem doesn’t continue to worsen? Tosser.

And now this. 

An Arctic flow. 

This isn’t the worst winter I’ve ever experienced on the island (at least not yet – it’s still only December). That prize goes to the winter of 2008/09. But it is the coldest I can ever remember it being. More snow in the forecast for today. I know many people think this is what a Canadian winter looks like, but generally not here. The island is in what is known as the temperate rainforest – emphasis on temperate. 

In Lytton, the village trying to rebuild after the summer’s wildfires, the thermometer has swung from 49.6 degrees last summer to -25.4 degrees last week. That’s a swing of 75 degrees. It’s unprecedented. Okay, Lytton isn’t in the temperate rainforest. It does have hot summers and cold winters, but not that hot and not that cold. Here in the temperate rainforest, temperatures have slipped down to -15 degrees. Minus fifteen.  (I just had to check. That’s nearly 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Fuck me, that’s cold.)

I honestly have no idea how I’ve ended up in my sixties, but apparently I have. When I was about eight I worked out how old I would be in the year 2000 and it was an unimaginable age. Now it’s 21 years later.

There isn’t a world leader anywhere who is capable of stalling what’s to come. (Even if there was, China will never transparently play ball.) It’s going to get worse in my lifetime, but I’ll be gone before the real climbocalypse kicks in. I have no children (or grandchildren) to worry about. What I do wonder is why those who do have progeny aren’t screaming bloody murder.

From → Columns

One Comment
  1. Mariam Zama permalink

    So much weather! We’ve been watching in horror and awe over here in the east – we’re so used to envying your lovely, and, yes, temperate, weather that it’s been quite a shock to realize that it’s been so fucking interesting for you. Here’s hoping it goes back to being boring!

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