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Your climate-change reports

On the September 22 Dispatches program, Rick reported from Chicago about the efforts the city was making based on adopting the official position that severe climate change -- specifically global warming -- is most likely going to happen there.  He asked listeners for personal observations of climate change the've experienced. Here are some of your responses.

Rosamonde & Patrick Dupuy, Salt Spring Island:

Hello Rick Mc-R,
 
We are long-time fans of your broadcast, & thank you so much for all the thoughtful, in-depth reportage over the years.
 
Regarding the Dispatches of 25th Sept. ( the segment on climate change); we have noticed here how seldom we now have a true deep freeze in the Gulf Islands, British Columbia.
 
We have lived on Salt Spring Island for forty years. Thirty years ago, we dug a pond where a winter creek runs through our property. Due to a high percentage of clay in the soil, & a spring in the bottom, the pond stays full all year round. It measures 80' x 50', & is 12'-15' deep, except around the edges.
 
On average, every four years, during the first fifteen years, the pond froze over for a time long enough that we could go out & skate around on it for two or three days. For this to happen, we had to have four or five days of a deep, unbroken freeze.
 
Since 1997, the pond has not frozen deeply enough to skate on. Every winter, we watch & wait for this, but, though we have had enough deep temperatures here & there, they have lasted only a day or two; not long enough to freeze more than the top surface of the pond, easily tested by chucking a rock in.
 
There are other signs of climate change in the Gulf Islands, plus many instances of very aggressive invasive species, such as the bullfrog. Many dedicated people are working on all aspects of climate change here, as in many other places around the world, but our personal guess at this point, based on what we see around us, & on listening to David Suzuki's last lecture here on Salt Spring, is that it's too late now to do anything significant enough to reverse the damage. Our very last chance to make enough of a difference globally, was back in the early 1980's, &, frankly, collectively, we blew it.
 
Best regards.

 

Roy Birkett, Gabriola Island, BC:

I was five when I first came to Victoria BC. Christmas nineteen forty eight and we lived very close  to city center, a five minute skip and jump when you're a kid. You could go downtown on a sunday and not see another soul. No tv so all the kids played outside and most had to be dragged inside when darkness fell. You notice things when you spend time outside, especially if you're curious and all of us kids were curious.
In summer the air was thick with bees, butterflies, the  scents of flowers and birds. Lot of birds. Lots of backyard gardens. Not any more. After three years in the city we moved about eight miles out to a very rural Saanich, to an area that had acres of waterland and fields where cows grazed alongside deer. The wetlands grew huge crops of potatoes when the fields dried out and these crops were collected and sent to stores in Victoria.

Most of Victorias' food was grown out in central Saanich and shipped to outlets in town I believe. There were small creeks, maybe three or four feet wide so full of red spawning salmon it seemed you could walk across on them. All gone.

The creeks have all disappeared under pavement. Who knows where the salmon have gone. The air was thick with barn swallows, Blackbirds, redwing and yellow wing lined the telephone wires on our walks to and from school. In the fall countless vees of geese and ducks winged their way south for the winter. All gone.

I asked a friend who lives on Mudge Island, a stones throw from where I live now,  when she last had seen a seagull. Stunned silence. How sad.

 

John Torgunrud, Vancouver:

I am a towboat captain based in Vancouver.  There are pilot books, which are description of marine hazards, rocks, of every area of the coast. They often have photographs of the inlets but in the remote areas of Alaska thet are often  twenty years out of date.  The changes in the glacers are often dramatic.

I have been to the Arctic often. In the 1980s we had a two to three week window to get in and out past the north coast of Alaska in late Aug and the first of September,  Now we have at two to three months from the end of July to the beginning of October.  Two summers ago I went from Roberts bay to Vancouver in the begginning of September without seeing one piece of ice. On that trip we saw at least 7 large sailboats doing the northwest pasage for fun as well as a very crazy Neufounlander doing it in a large Zodiac,  The arctic now is the latest tourest site

Happily listen to cbc getting my dose of Canadianna

 

Tom Hickie, Fredericton:

Dear Dispatches when my mother lived in St. John's during the thirties it was the snowiest city in Canada, when I lived in Saint John during the fifties and sixties it was the snowiest city in Canada and was very cold during the winters. When I moved to Fredericton in the seventies we accumulated much more snow than Saint John. If historical records are accurate mini ice ages occur routinely in various areas for various reasons. The eruption of Krakatoa caused a nuclear winter around the world for several years.

Large cities such as Chicago affect the local weather patterns just as do creating large reservoirs or high ways. I am all for reducing emissions and smog and conserving and saving money but I doubt that we have the technology to determine how and why the climate is changing. Are we capable of measuring the temperature of ever cubic kilometre of water and atmosphere or every Kilometre of ground? Have a great fall that will experience significant cooling intersperced with very warm days,

 

Colin Wright, Richmond Hill, ON

Having lived and worked in Chicago a few years' back I retain some fondness for and interest in the "Windy City'. Like so many North American cities, it is a place of weather extremes; at times, bitingly cold in the winter and unbearably hot in the summer.

I was surprised to hear that climate change was having so obvious and dramatic an impact. In a place where weather varies so dramatically, it can be hard to separate weather anomalies from perceived climate change. So, I spent a couple of minutes checking out the official weather records for the past 140 years (link here
http://www.climatestations.com/chicago/) And guess what, it appears that Chicago is battling... weather. There is no discernible long-term upward trend in Chicago's mean annual temperature and possibly only a short-term upward trend in annual precipitation. It has been both hotter and wetter at various points over the past near century-and-a-half.

I would suspect that the city has always done what it is now doing - finding ways to mitigate the effects of the snowstorms and rainstorms, heat waves and deep freezes that have always featured in the day-to-day, month-to-month weather. Only now, such mitigation efforts are much nobler because they are made under the guise of fighting the scourge of climate change and saving the planet. Not really much of a story - maybe you could  cover storm sewer renewal efforts  in Toronto and save the CBC some travel dollars.

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