Is the cold Canadian winter a thing of the past? - Macleans.ca
 

Is the cold Canadian winter a thing of the past?


 


 
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Is the cold Canadian winter a thing of the past?

  1. I can’t wait to post this poll next winter when Toronto is crying because the temperature has hit -20 and it is national news.
     
    But, but, but…. Climate change is well underway and Canadian winters are a thing of the past!
     
    Morons.

      • Then all those countries expecting the arctic passage to be ice free well ahead of predictions even 5 years ago, could save themselves a lot of $ by ignoring climate science and visible reality.

    • You do realize that you just called 98% of all well educated scientists,(in the world) that have studied the climate,…morons

    • Morons? You’re looking at a changing climate right in front of your face, record highs not for a year but six years in a row, and you call those who are allarmed morons? Look in the mirror buddy.

  2. Winter itself is caused by axial tilt.

    Climate change does not mean winter weather ‘disappears’.  Winters can become colder, longer or shorter and warmer.  It is ‘changing’ in intensity and duration in the switch-over period.

  3. As a Swiss Canadian I really no longer need science to tell me that the climate has changed drastically… Glaciers are a good reminder all on their own. I have my grandfathers photographs of Glacier National Park, Banf, and of the “Grosser Aletsch” glacier in Switzerland, and I have seen each of these with my own eyes several times over the last 30 or so years…. Switzerland’s Mountains are crumbling because the permafrost no longer reaches below 3500m above sea level, it’s glaciers are shorter by many kilometers in the last decade and thinner by up to 40% in the same time frame. The same is happening in the Canadian Rockies and our arctic tundra is moving further north every year. A warm winter or cold summer can be but usually aren’t good indicators of climate change as climate change is what happens over decades not months.But Glaciers growing and receding and treeline moving are good indicators for the layman to look at and make their own judgements!!! I believe your writers actually know this, it would be nice if they also used that knowledge when asking these questions and posting misleading answers!
    Kind Regards
    Tanya P Henauer

    • You may remember that there was an ice age at one time. Since then the glaciers have been melting back. Without them melting, the rivers would dry up and then many Canadian cities would not have any drinking water. It’s like one giant ice cube! if the glaciers would grow, that would cut down the water supply and then there would be panic. Maybe when the glaciers run dry, it’s time up. Meanwhile, we need the water.

    •  Does your grandfather have pictures from Banff (or even Switzerland) courtesy of how it looked in HIS grandfather’s time? How did Glacier National Park look in 1471? 618? 438BC? Glaciers don’t stand still: they either advance or they retreat. The definition of an ice age is the time period by which glaciers advance. Congratulations, you have successfully demonstrated that we are not in an ice age (well, “glacial periods” is the technical term — we’ll still be in an ice age until the ice sheets on the poles vanish which by the way has happened on earth long before Stephen Harper invented the internal combustion engine). Of course, the glaciers in question once extended to Calgary and Saskatoon and Toronto, so getting nostalgic about “the good old days” when glaciers were at the size that you think they should be frozen at is a little bit biased on your part.

    • Tanya, nobody can dispute the facts you put forth; however, the premise put forth by all that it is caused by global warming and that taxing us into extinction like most forms of life on earth is the only way to combat it it BS. The same things has happened again and again over the eons and there was nobody around at the end of the last ice age!

      • When the scenarios put forth by climate scientists come true, we won’t have to worry about taxing ourselves into extinction we will have polluted ourselves there.  I think that scientists who study this issue know alot more about climate change than our politicians, the typical Maclean’s reader and those with a vested interest in the status quo with respect to the oil industry.  Our dependence on fossil fuels will be causing us trouble eventually (whether you believe in climate change or not) it is a finite resource.  We must find alternatives if future generations are going to survive.  Investing in finding these alternatives now is a form of self-preservation for our species (along with other species who share this planet).  Even if burning fossil fuels are not contributing to climate change (which they are) weaning ourselves off them is essential.  If they are contributing to climate change, every year that we postpone action will only make it harder to prevent the catastrophic changes that are predicted if we can’t keep carbon dioxide levels below 450 ppm.  So look at things this way.  If the scientists are right, then getting ourselves off of fossil fuels may just save our planet.  If they are wrong, it might just save our way of life for our children.  Hmmm.  Tough choice?

        • Which scientists are you refering to? Is it possibly Dr. Timothy Ball? Perhaps you are referring to the folks at  www.co2science.org or maybe http://www.climategate.com. It would be nice to refer to scioentists by name because it is obvious to do otherwise is a gross misrepresentation of scientists in general. Fact is, there are more scientists each day who are no longer making a connection between climate change and CO2 levels. CO2 levels many times in the past were much higher than they are today. Anybody noticed how active the sun has been lately? Did you know the planet Mars is getting warmer? Not sure what the Martians are doing to cause that. The sooner we get off the lies that have been pushed on us by folks who want to take control of our world, the sooner we will be able to tackle real issues, one of which is too much dependance on hydrocarbaons we find in the ground.

          • At last count, approximately 95% of the world scientists who actually do climate research agree that human activities and specifically greenhouse gases, are responsible for the currently observed climate change (ie; scientist who publish their work in peer reviewed scientific journals).  So naming them by name would be difficult to do in this limited space. I notice that you did not name the “growing number” of scientists who are changing their minds either….
            A little research on your part would reveal the fact that climate change deniers are mostly non-scientists (economists, politicians) and those that are scientists are not climate scientists.  The one common connection between them all is their deep connections to the oil industry.  Their job is to cast doubt on the research of real scientists to make the general public believe that the science behind global warming is still unsettled.  Climate change deniers are masters at cherry picking selected aspects of real climate science and misrepresenting them to the general public.  It is much easier to believe that we can continue with the status quo, so the general public is probably happy to believe that the science is still unsure. 
            If you are looking for credibility, try looking at the NASA website and the information they provide on climate change. How about Dr. Andrew Weaver, a Canadian climate scientist who shared in the Nobel Prize for his work with the IPCC as an author in their report for policy makers on climate change.  How about Realclimate.com or desmogblog.com where real climate scientists attempt to educate the general public and explain the errors and mis-information put forth by the oil industry machine.  The oil industry is very rich and can afford to spend lots of money on confusing the public, much like the tobacco industry did in its fight to keep us believing that their product didn’t cause cancer (by the way, many of these same people are now working for the oil industry).
            Intrestingly enough, getting ourselves off our dependence on hydrocarbons is exactly what the climate scientists are suggesting we do!  So tackling climate change is tackling the “real issues” that you mention.

          • I visited the sites that you suggest.  The site http://www.co2science.org is a family run site (father and son team), neither of whom are climate scientists but do have degrees in geography and agriculture.  A little research shows that since 1998 to present they recieved well over 1 million dollars in direct or indirect funding from ExxonMobile (http://www.desmogblog.com/craig-idso.).  Little wonder why they are so keen on keeping people believing the science behind climate change is wrong.
            I couldn’t find any information about who is behind the second site.  I wonder why the authors of a “credible website” designed to “inform the public” about a terrible lie would want to remain anonymous?

          • As for solar activity, once again a little research is all that is needed here.  The sun’s activity has been at a minimum that has not been seen for nearly a century since 2008.  Only in 2011 has solar activity been picking up again.( http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/14apr_thewatchedpot/).  Yet even with the sun at it’s minimum activity in a century we have been experiencing record breaking summer heat.  The six hottest years on record in the last century have all been in the last decade.

            As for Dr. Ball, who claims to be a climatologist, was actually a geography prof. at Univ. of Winnipeg with a total of a paltry 4 publications in his entire career (http://www.desmogblog.com/tim-ball).  Among his various affiliations is to the Heartland Insitute, a right wing american think take funded by ExxonMobile.

            Need I go one finding the large holes in your information sources?

            You, like many, are unfortunately a dupe of the deniers mis-information war against climate science.  They take advantage of the general lack of scientific literacy of the general population. 
            The websites that I have suggested (along with the NASA site below) will at least give you the true scientific facts about what is known on this important subject.(http://climate.nasa.gov/)

            Realistically, who has more to lose here if the combustion of fossil fuels is responsible for climate change?  Climate scientist who work mainly for governments and universities or the Oil industry?

          •  You might want to note exactly who is proposing what.
            The UN is promoting a tax payable to itself on the proposition that disaster it is predicting requires we pay to avert it…to them.
            How much faith do you have that co2 is the dominant driver of climate when our mild winter is equaled by freezing of Europe ? Not that one winter makes a trend or that the whole question is not posed as a political football with only ‘climate scientists’ supporting the proposition qualified to question the modeling of co2 influence as significant.
            Admitting ignorance merely defeats arrogance.

  4. I live on Vancouver Island. The last two years have felt like the coldest ever. The remaining snow
    pack in the mountains last September was the highest I can remember it ever being.
    Yesterday there was a touch of snow on the trees almost down to sea level. I guess
    it can’t be cold everywhere.

    •  Yes we live in the Fraser Valley and this year we had snow up to my waist!!!  It has been cold and wet here.  Strange though that soon after the buds started coming out on the trees and we had signs of Spring.  The past week was beautiful but certainly not that warm as it got down to 2 Celsius at night.  Nicole http://www.edusavvyparents.com

  5. These suggestions are silly and probably destructive. Climate change is something that shows up in long term trends, not at all in short term weather phenomena (which are inherently erratic). Just take a second to think about it: if average temperatures increase by 1 or 2 degrees (which is a lot), then how much is that noticeable? So it’s -19 instead of -20 next February?

    A warm winter is a fluke, even if you 100% accept the prevailing climate science theory of carbon emissions causing significant climate change. With or without climate change, weather behaves unpredictably. Looking at 10 or 20 year trends, however, we can have real discussions on the subject.

  6. In Ontario this week, we broke records dating back to 1948.  So that means in 1948 it was just as hot (or it wouldn’t have been a record back then).  I was 5 years old at the time and I don’t remember anybody worrying about “Global Warming” then.  Weather goes in cycles.  Let’s enjoy it while it’s warm!.

    • I remember in the early 70’s (when I was also about 5) that the talk at the time was that a new ice age was coming.  I’m sure you remember that as well.

      Funny thing…that ice age never materialized, the weather stabilized, and now it seems to be moving in the opposite direction.  I expect that it’ll stabilize, and then swing to cold again.

      That is not to say that we shouldn’t stop polluting, cuttind down rainforests, burning petroleum as fuel, et cetera…just that we really need to take a long hard look at reality before we jump off the cliff.  We should at least know if it’s two inches or two miles, anyway.

  7. It is the trend that tells the tale not the exception. The trend is obvious but the cause may not be perfectly defined. If I have to choose between believing a couple of thousand international earth scientists or a mob of global warming deniers take a good guess who I will listen to.

    • A couple thousand eminent scientists also denied Galileo’s theory on the earth being round.

  8. I have no doubts that climate change is well underway, and that the global warming and the greenhouse effect is partly responsible for it, and it is incredible that so many people (including our goverment) don’t realize that man-made pollutants play a big part of it (well, for the goverment it is very convenient not to see it). Scientists know that global warming goes in cycles, but this one is greatly accelerated in time by humankind by-products and irresponsability. When people on the street greet me with: “beautifull weather, I love it”, I can’t stop to think: ” Yes, but at what price?”. Polar bears, seals,etc. are dying by the thousands because of it, and closer to home, farmers are suffering because scarcity of rain and water, and I can see the same people that is now “enjoying” the good weather, screaming their heads off because the price of the food is going up.

  9. climate change never existed -all bogus,to destroy our economy.

    • yes, because all of the climate scientists in the world just hate the economy!? 
      Who exactly is behind this world wide conspiracy?
      I guess you also believe that man never landed on the moon, a single nut job didn’t assasinated JFK, and that the american goverment is hiding the evidence of little spacemen in area 54

        • Did you actually go and read the Mike Hulme document that this site is providing a summary of (there is a link to it at the beginning of the summary)?  Nowhere does Dr. Hulme state that the conclusions of the IPCC are wrong.  The criticisms seems to be that the IPCC is biased towards the scientific basis of climate change and not giving equal value to the social scientists perspectives.  As for developing a scientific consensus, once again, much of the disagreement comes with the fact the the IPCC had to underestimate and “water down” its conclusions due to socio-political pressures.  In cases where consensus could not be reached it was due to socio-political differences not scientific ones. 
          Is generating consensus on a world wide issue difficult when each country has its own social and political agenda, absolutely.  As his the article suggests the IPCC is a socio-cultural experiment to see if humanity can achieve on overarching goal.

  10. There are no “flukes” when it comes to nature. Climate change is very real, and whether its a natural occurence or being sped up by our fossil fuel mentality way of life…it is happening. Glad to see our government phase out coal, but would be nice to see alternative forms of energy (i.e.zero point) be developed and reduce,if not eliminate, our dependancy on fossil fuels. It seems very apparent that this dependancy is artifically created by the very industries that profit from it. If one looks back in time, there is evidence to suggest that ancient cultures used this “free energy” and Tesla, as well as others , have touched on this in their respective research. Having a capitialistic society that thrives on profit in lieu of environmental and social ethics does not necessarily make us more advanced or superior. Even the most advanced species (presumably human) can not control or predict mother nature and become vulnerable to her might.

    • ” It seems very apparent that this dependency is artificially created by the very industries that profit from it.” 
      There is the question of effective method. I propose known military control and interference with the patent process. Note : I said known, not routinely reported. In fact, since such review is inherently privileged communication, the lack should be expected.
      I was born in a time when it was known radar masts were routinely airbrushed out of news pictures of Halifax harbour during WW II and the net did not exist. Secrets were kept.

  11. I would have preferred to reword the vote to” It’s POSSIBLE to predict”. I have seen in my 61 years 2 notable warm winters hear at the capital of dirty oil, and at mount hood and at mount baker. Any one who cares to do a little historical research [ie medieval warming cycle] will soon put together that the sun has warmer cycles that directly match ours. Oh yes and of course it has trended to warmer since most of north america was [15000 plus years ago covered by mile thick ice] And now a new warming has come to David Suzuki for not complying with charitable org. tax laws in Canada. Lets see you cover that one guys. The royal prince of green in Canada it appears has used donated moneys to do his political activism. He said that people who disagree with his green instructions should be thrown in jail. This story has so much drama, lies and deception how could a good writer resist it. Best regards DT.

  12. When people talk about climate change, they are talking about small increases over very long time-spans (centuries, even). So you can’t really attribute a single particularly hot season to climate change (nor does a cold one debunk climate change) – month-to-month variation is still far bigger than any long-term increase in average temperatures.

    That said there are a lot of natural processes that may have critical breaking points – breaking points they might reach if the earth keeps getting hotter. For instance, melting ice fields in Greenland could disrupt the Gulf Stream (the current which makes Europe warm – eg. look where Ireland is latitude-wise). So a fairly small global increase could lead to a very large and damaging local decrease in temperatures.

  13. Wow, it’s disheartening to see how many people truly don’t understand climate change but still post comments here. A few misconceptions to clarify for those who don’t believe the changes our planet is experiencing are related to human activities, or who simply don’t understand the facts:

    1. Global warming is global, not regional; you can’t look to some warmer region here as proof of global warming in the same way you can’t look to some colder region there and claim it as evidence against. It’s the global temperature that’s increasing on average, so enough with whatever has happened in someone’s backyard, because that just does’t matter. The article Maclean’s had as their cover story was interesting because it reflected changes seen across the country, not simply one little corner of it, and northern latitudes are expected to be most susceptible to climate change. This fits with the observation that Canada’s average temperature has increased more than the global average. But a cold winter next year won’t be proof that global warming isn’t real. What one city, one province, one country or even one continent experience doesn’t count as proof. It’s what the whole planet is experiencing.

    2. Orbital tilt (or what is more properly referred to as orbital “forcings” – not just the changes in “tilt” or axis, but also changes in obliquity and precession that our planet experiences) don’t explain what we’re observing either. They help explain previous ice ages; i.e. changes that took thousands of years to occur, but not those that take only a few decades, such as what we’re observing now.

    3. The sun hasn’t been more active lately and can’t explain what we’re observing. In fact, the last sunspot cycle was the lowest in the last 200 years reaching the lowest point in 2008-9, considered a “deep solar minimum.” This is one of the reasons global warming has received more attention in the last 15 years – less solar output than usual but hotter temperatures than usual in spite of it. If the last cycle had been average or – I shudder to think – more active than usual, we’d be in much deeper trouble than we are at present. This recent solar minimum helps explain why temperatures were rather stable over the last decade rather than continuing to climb, something deniers and skeptics often refer to as evidence that climate models are wrong or that global warming isn’t real.

    4. CO2 levels are only one thing that contributes to global temperature change. Other factors include:
    a) Orbital forcings described above, but these take millennia to manifest, not decades. 
    b) Increased particluate matter in the atmosphere such as volcanic activity helps cool the planet ( a cool 1991 after Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption in the Philiipines is a good example). 
    c) The higher the greenhouse gas levels, the higher the temperature because these effectively insulate the planet. 
    d) And the El-Nino Southern Oscillation plays a part although that’s still more regional than global. 

    The only observation that adequately explains a change in such a short time span as we’ve observed is the increase in greenhouse gas emissions from human activities such as combustion of fossil files, deforestation, and increasing agriculture. That’s why 98% of the world’s climate scientists say that the culprit is us. It seems unfathomable to me that some can’t believe 7 billion people spewing 30 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year isn’t going to cause a problem. Physics tells us these greenhouse gas molecules will absorb infrared radiation and trap heat. This is science people, not opinion.

    Clearly we need to educate people better, but as long as there are those with loud voices who have a vested interest in sticking with business as usual, we’re not likely to change enough people’s minds. Daniel Patrick Moynihan stated it very eloquently: “You’re entitled to your own opinions, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”

    I’ve done my best to help by writing a book on the subject with the goal of explaining the facts so that those with an open mind can learn the truth for themselves. Now if we can only find more people with open minds…

    •  Your definition of an open mind is at odds with disagreeing with you.

      • No, the issue is with “skeptics” vs “deniers”.  It is okay to be skeptical, most scientists are skeptics and question things all the time.  The difference is that a true skeptic is open minded and is willing to change their mind once provided with evidence.  Deniers will continue to deny regardless of how many facts they are provided with. 

        When it comes to climate change, scientist have provided us with overwhelming  evidence from varied sources that strongly suggest that we are the cause of the problem.  If people are waiting for 100% proof, that’s unfortunately not how science works.  Scientists are aware of the fact that all scientific inquiry has a certain amount of uncertainty associated with it and they frame their conclusions in those terms. 
        The true skeptics on this issue understand this and have long since been convinced. 
        The only people who still don’t believe that human acitivities are responsible for climate change are the deniers.  Deniers believe (due to ignorance) or are paid to believe that the science is wrong. 

        Mr. Dribble’s synopsis of what science knows about climate is the result of years of scientific inquiry by highly trained scientists.  Scientists have been studying Earth’s complex climate system long before they even realized that climate was changing.  The idea that CO2 and other gases trap heat in the atmosphere has been known for over 100 years.  Climate models have been developed and extensively tested. They have been shown to be able to accurately reproduce past climates and predict changes in climate successfully.  These climate models have shown repeatedly that the current changes in climate cannot be explained by any natural climate forcings.  The models only match the current changes in climate when  anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are taken into account.

        So disagree if you must, but realize that, at this point, disagreeing makes you a denier, not a skeptic.

        • Again, your allegations, your rules.
          The possibilities and likelihoods of unknown and uncalculated perturbing and/or moderating influences is not convenient to recognize nor theorize when one must allege knowledge of what is happening.
          Modeling is an unproven and unprovable exercise in mathematical mental masturbation founded in hypothesis and flogged as revelation.
          Identifying and quantifying processes are scientific endeavour. Proceeding to flaunt hubris of certainty and disallowing – and suppressing – consideration of shortcomings is not dialogue.
          Propaganda is not an unconsidered evaluation in such a case. Nor does devaluing past ideas lend support to certainty about the new lot.