Don’t ignore the many regional weather variations

The Antarctic is cooling while the Arctic warms, and glaciers are growing in New Zealand and Norway but shrinking in B.C. at the moment.

In attempting to rebut Tom Fletcher on climate change in your Jan. 2, 2015 issue, T.V. Gogol misses regional variation. I think that’s what Fletcher is talking about — his recent writing has not been a model of clarity.

For example, the Antarctic is cooling while the Arctic warms, and glaciers are growing in New Zealand and Norway but shrinking in B.C. at the moment. (Indeed, tribal lore for an area north of the Sunshine Coast is that a glacier came and went over time.) The ice cap on Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa is growing again, due to a change in precipitation that probably is caused by changes in currents in the Atlantic Ocean upwind of the mountain, affecting evaporation.

People like Gogol should put their mental energy into predicting regional variation, such as droughts that come and go in dry places — has he not read of the history of the central plains of North America in the 1930s, which is still the warmest decade since the Medieval Warm Period facilitated farming in southwest Greenland? (Once NASA corrected the Y2K botch in its database.) That drought was repeated a few years ago, but further south in the continent, probably caused by the now known southern ocean phenomenon called La Nina and El Nino, which also contributes to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation that affects location of salmon populations on the west coast.

Of course better knowledge of good farming practices, fertilizers, irrigation pumps, efficient farming equipment and transportation, all enabled by – gasp! – fossil fuels, reduce the impact of droughts.

As for severe weather, a common problem is not reading history. So people like Gogol ignore the metre of snow that fell here in February of 1916 —  recently chronicled in Black Press papers, the typhoon here several decades ago, the superstorms that hit New York City in the 20th century and the floods in B.C. before dams and dykes were built on the Columbia and Fraser rivers.

And they overlook that loss from fires results from more people living near forest (compounded by restrictions on removing vegetation fuel in interface areas), and the question of whether or not our success at fire suppression has enabled a much larger fire when fire fighters are not able to stop it at an early stage.

Keith Sketchley, Saanich

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