Monday, December 31, 2007

Weather to worry about

The Record (Canada): If the weird, wild weather Canada experienced in 2007 didn't convince you the climate is changing, probably nothing will. But if you count yourself a global warming skeptic, at least consider with an open mind the strange happenings of the past 12 months.

The year began in a truly unnerving way, with winter arriving later in Ontario and other parts of Eastern Canada than at any other time in recorded history. Early January felt like spring. Ski resorts laid off hundreds. Then, in summer, the dramatic disappearance of a chunk of Arctic sea ice as big as Ontario stunned scientists and northern communities alike.

Meanwhile, the hot, humid summer on the Prairies was described as tropical. At the same time, Ontario was gripped by drought-like conditions as water levels in the Great Lakes fell alarmingly low. And on June 10, the most powerful tornado ever recorded in this country tore through Elie, Manitoba.

"Canadians might remember 2007 as the year that climate change began biting deep and hard on the home front,'' concluded David Phillips, Environment Canada's chief climatologist as he put the year into perspective.

There are many people who, aware of these strange weather patterns as well as repeated warnings from the United Nation's panel on climate change that humans are damaging the environment, are ready to change how they live. Sadly, a disconcertingly large number of skeptics in and outside governments are not.

We would respectfully ask these skeptics two questions: How much more evidence do you need? And isn't it better to do something even if the warnings about climate change are overstated, than to do nothing to stop global warming and risk stumbling into a first-rate, full-blown global catastrophe?

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