Wonky local weather (November 15, 2020)

Good Sunday Morning

Blustery and cold here on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. We have been shivering for a while in unseasonable cold, while for early November, Toronto, Ottawa and much of eastern Canada have been experiencing unseasonable warmth.  Across southern Ontario records were being smashed. It looks like more normal temperatures are returning in Ontario with snow on the way.

We tend, even in the depth of the climate emergency, to see such anomalies as just “weird” – as opposed to scary.   I had not realized how warm it was in Toronto until I saw a tweet from Dogwood’s Kai Nagata. He commented on a tweet from someone named Kamil Karamali – who said it had been too hot in his apartment and he’d had to go for a walk in the middle of the night to “cool down”…  I wondered where he lived, so I looked up Kamil Karamali. He is a Global TV reporter in Toronto. Toronto in November and it is too hot to sleep?

On Monday, November 9th, Collingwood hit the highest recorded temperature at 25.7 degrees C. The warmth stretched through five days, with Toronto over 20 degrees and Ottawa at 22 degrees. The warmth also spread to Atlantic Canada, with golf courses busy on Remembrance Day. Moncton and Halifax experienced late summer-like conditions.

I think if it had not been that “hotspot” news was all related to COVID hotspots, we might have had some attention to the record-breaking temperatures across Eastern Canada. The erratic and unpredictable weather experienced locally is tied to the larger climate questions. Loss of Arctic ice and a warming Arctic have been connected to changes in the jet stream and more erratic weather everywhere.  Combined with wonky local weather, this fall has seen the latest ever freeze up of Arctic waters. https://www.discovermagazine.com/environment/insanely-warm-arctic-ocean-waters-are-delaying-freeze-up-and-pouring-heat

In September, Arctic ice was recorded at its lowest extent ever.  Those warming trends that saw Siberia on fire throughout the spring have led to what scientists are describing as “insanely warm” Arctic Ocean temperatures. That warmer water is preventing ice from forming, and the warmer air is going to the atmosphere with impacts on weather in southern regions.  The threat to Arctic ice is clearer by the day. By late September, the volume of Arctic ice was one quarter of what it was in 1979.  What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic.  Dangerous extreme weather events globally increase as we lose the climate moderating impacts of a permanently frozen Arctic.

Another thing that would be happening right now if not for COVID would be the climate negotiations at COP26 in Glasgow, originally set for November 9-19, 2020.  Due to COVID, COP26 is postponed to November 1-12, 2021.

It seems that Canada’s Minister of the Environment, Jonathan Wilkinson, thinks that the delay of COP26 also postpones Canada’s obligation to increase our climate target in calendar 2020. It does not. https://www.climatechangenews.com/2020/04/02/governments-still-due-submit-tougher-climate-plans-2020-despite-cop26-delay/

Wilkinson has signaled that sometime this week he will begin the reveal Canada’s plan to hit carbon neutrality by 2050.  I hope he has finally realized that Canada must significantly improve our current pathetic target this year! That target left in place by Harper in May 2015 (30% below 2005 levels by 2030) is inconsistent with our Paris Agreement commitments.  To reach the Paris goal of holding to no more than 1.5 degrees C global average temperature increase, that target should be doubled.  We’ll see what his announcement this week will bring. It is certainly not encouraging to have our government state its first top priority with President-elect Joe Biden is to convince him to reverse course and support the Keystone pipeline.

Meanwhile, in other ways my government disappoints is the failure to file any objection to the planned US Naval testing in the habitat of Southern Resident Killer Whales.   I have no idea why only the Greens raised this issue in Parliament. Only one news agency, the National Observer, carried any information about our efforts. https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/11/10/news/proposed-us-navy-weapons-testing-salish-sea-elizabeth-may

And now the tests are approved – for seven years. https://www.ecowatch.com/navy-training–southern-resident-killer-whales-2648892867.html?rebelltitem=1#toggle-gdpr

This should be the priority of our government in talking to President-Elect Biden – the move to strong climate action and shared work to protect endangered whales. I will not give up in working to ensure our Southern Resident Killer Whales are not driven to extinction while a compliant Minister of Fisheries, Bernadette Jordan, keeps expressing her satisfaction that the US partners are “working well” with the Canadian government.

Much is happening in parliament, as we gear up with amendments to improve the bill to ban conversion therapy and to ensure access to Medical Assistance in Dying to those who have been denied since the act was first brought into force in the previous parliament.  That all our work can now be done on zoom is a huge relief.  Traveling back and forth to Ottawa in a pandemic was a source of stress, but I have a strong sense of duty to be in Parliament when I need to be.

Fortunately, I can now do my work and do it while safely isolating.

Stay well. And be very careful as we are in a second wave.

Love and all that!



Upcoming events:

November 19th, 6:30PM ET – Join a webinar on the need for Canada to sign the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty, featuring Liberal MP Hedy Fry, NDP MP Heather McPherson, Green Party MP Elizabeth May, Bloc Québécois MP Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe as well as Setsuko Thurlow, survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima who jointly accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.  https://www.foreignpolicy.ca/nuclearban

November 20: Join us for an important ZOOM conversation with Seth Klein, Elizabeth May and Anjali Appadurai, three prominent Canadian activists who will offer their perspectives on the climate crisis and the role we can play to mitigate its impacts and create a bold new vision based on justice and right relationship with our Earth.   https://fb.me/e/27kEdoK65  To register, send email to:  rollingjusticebus@shaw.ca

And petitions to sign!

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