Friday, July 03, 2009

CanWest's Quirky Take on Climate Change

It's a bad year for prairie farmers. Severe drought has already sent them running for their crop insurance benefits. It's bad enough in Alberta that farmers no longer have to wait for a visit by crop insurance inspectors. The province has announced they can just call it in.

The question on many lips is whether the droughts are the result of climate change? It's impossible to tell just yet. Climate change isn't a seasonal, annual or even decadal phenomenon. It's long-term in scope, multi-decadal. But that hasn't stopped CanWest's Edmonton Journal from speculating:

...The drought has swept through huge areas of the province leaving virtually all farmers in its dust. It's not as if there's any lucky, unscrupulous farmer hiding a lush bumper crop.

To make matters even bleaker, some weather experts say: "We haven't seen the worst of it."

Nobody can point with any authority to global warming as the culprit. It does not move from normal weather to abnormal weather in a straight line. One bad year does not climate change make. But there is a disturbing trend here that meshes with predictions from climatologists who fear we're headed into more and more climate trouble--2008 was a particularly bad year for hail damage in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. If this is indeed evidence of climate change, farmers must feel as if they're the canary in the mine shaft.

...Seeing a group of fellow Albertans, such as farmers, suffering the effects of climate change first-hand makes the issue real and immediate rather than an ethereal concept affecting someone in a far off country who might face a flood sometime in the future.

If the Alberta government really does want to fight the war on greenhouse gas emissions its stance is bolstered with each drop of rain that doesn't fall.

Our farmers as victims of global warming also raises something of a dilemma for the province. Alberta has been targeted once again --this time by the World Wildlife Foundation--as a growing source of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Our emissions might be tiny on a global scale, but they are huge at the per-capita level. And per capita is where we lose the moral ground to countries such as China that have enormous emissions, but only because they have so many more people. Based on the per-capita argument it would appear the economic winners in our energy industry are making losers of our farmers.

Pretty heady stuff coming from a CanWest branch plant, an organization that has done just about everything they could conceive of to portray global warming induced climate change as a great hoax. Maybe going broke has helped them come to their senses.


Mark Richard Francis said...

It is believed that the Prairies will get much drier under global warming. But, climate is generally considered to be a 30 year trend, so, you're right, you can't accuse it of causing a drought, only warn that more of the same may be coming.

foottothefire said...

Drive by the irrigation districts some time then take a peek at the Bow and Oldman river...draining both as fast as they can and it still doesn't help.
Stupid following stupid.

The Mound of Sound said...

What's troubling is the research in recent years suggesting the Great Plains region is normally far more arid than we had believed and that 60-year duration mega-droughts were not unusual. What was uncommon was the precipitation pattern that existed when we arrived and which we mistook for "normal" conditions.

I wasn't aware of the irrigation problem, Foot. How long has this been happening? What are the groundwater resources in that area?

Fish said...

Well, I understand that the Sahara wasn't always a desert (you remember those days don't you Mound? hehe)... maybe it's our turn.