Weird Weather This Weekend – Again

Here in Manitoba, it has been a weekend of record-breaking downpours.  The Red River rose by more than nine feet over the weekend. In Winnipeg, streets were closed, sewers backed up and basements flooded all over the city.  Rural parts of the province were hit even more severely, with the town of Emerson at the U.S./Canada border declaring a state of emergency.

People in these parts are not happy with our weather this spring, and they are remembering the “summer that wasn’t” last year.  Most people over 30 will tell you that the weather is different from when they were younger; it can’t be counted on the way it used to be.  Besides being less dependable, it is also “weird” – like the hailstorms in northwestern Ontario at the beginning of April this year, and the rain during the winter months Manitoba has experienced two winters in a row.

What is going to happen, I wonder, when the population as a whole realizes that our erratic weather is happening because our leaders didn’t heed the warning of scientists, who have been sounding the alarm about the warming of the atmosphere, and resulting global weather “weirding”  for decades?  How will people feel when they realize they have been betrayed by politicians who put political expediency and short-term economic profits over the long-term well-being of the planet and our children’s future? What will people say when they see our economy pushed to the breaking point trying to deal with the weather disasters and crop failures brought on by our reckless burning of fossil fuels? I imagine there will be anger among citizens that is unparalleled in the world’s history.  It’s not to late for our politicians to read the writing on the wall, and to show true leadership on this issue. There are precedents, even in Manitoba’s history. Duff Roblin, the 14th premier of Manitoba, passed away this weekend. He put his political reputation on the line to build a floodway that would protect future generations of Winnipeggers from a repeat of the devastating 1950 flood. Now nick-named “Duff’s Ditch”, the floodway was previously dubbed “Duff’s Folly” by his critics.  History vindicated Mr. Roblin’s foresight and courage. Where is the Duff Roblin of this generation, a politician willing to put his or her political reputation on the line to protect future generations?

photo by Deb Loewen

“Province Reels from Downpour: Heavy Rains Overload Backup Systems” Winnipeg Free Press

Storm Clean-Up Starts In Southern Manitoba“.

Why The ‘Never Seen Before’ Fargo Flooding is Just What You’d Expect From Climate Change” Climate Progress

Climate Accountability Act Needs Support From Politicians With Vision

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0 thoughts on “Weird Weather This Weekend – Again”

  1. How much weather records need to occur before the general and political consensus matches that of the science community?
    It’s certainly a worry. Well established agricultural practices are changing in my state. People are more often saying, “it’s a boom and bust country; you’ve got to take the good with the bad.” However the farmer you talk to say that they feel like their on the back foot so often nowadays – trying to work out when to seed and when to harvest. It’s weird driving through the Riverland and seeing one farmer in one field with seedlings and inch high and the field on the other side is still waiting.
    Do you get your crop in with the flood waters or do you wait to see how much you get of it?

    • Good question, Tim – probably the answer is that by the time we are walloped with bad enough weather that the majority of the population wakes up to the fact that climate change is an established fact, it may be too late. The good news is that we only have to wake up a minority of the population – 5 – 10 % – to make a difference in addressing the issue before the tipping point is reached from which we can’t return. Maybe – just maybe – the Gulf catastrophe will do that in this part of the world.

      • I fear you are right – it’ll probably be when things really start to bite us in the rear that the support for the science will finally catch up. I tried to make that point about the gulf of Mexico at the end of my last piece; indeed, what lengths will will go to in our desire to maintain this habit? I personally feel that if we go to such depths of the ocean that stopping a leak becomes a massive issue or that we’re willing to remove half a mountain, haven’t we already gone too far?
        It’s just insanity.
        I was given a e-paper by a friend, People paradox: self-esteem, striving immortality ideologies, and human response to climate change. Janis L. Dickinson. 2009. Ecology and Society. It explores our ability to deny. It’s interesting, although I question a couple aspects (but who wouldn’t, I guess, seeing as it over-arches a large part of both natural sciences and social sciences). It’s certainly worth a read and I’d be happy to forward to you a copy.

  2. Sure, Tim, I’d be interested in reading a copy of your friend’s paper.
    Are you familiar with the concept of cognitive dissonance? In other words, what we humans do when we are faced with a fact that doesn’t fit into our preconceived view of the world? It explains a lot about some people’s reluctance to admit that we humans have screwed up big time, and that we need to change our way of being in the world or we’re all going down together. On a micro level, cognitive dissonance is at work when people who know all about the health effects of smoking cigarettes continue to do so. Global warming denial is taking cognitive dissonance to a whole different level, where other people are made to suffer because of our inability to face reality (whereas with smoking the majority of the impact is on our own health). If you want to read more about it, I’d be happy to post a link.

  3. That sounds a lot like what is explored in the paper I was talking about. It makes sense on an evolutionary sense as it always us to deal with what would otherwise be too stressful to deal with.
    Talking about wild weather, we had a tornado near Byron Bay the other day. We get smaller tornadoes around the place (where my tower is situated is subject to the occasional one), but the level of damage etc seen near Byron bay was nothing short of a freak event.
    MT commented on the temperature so far this year here;
    Common sense mustn’t be too far behind, should it? 🙂


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