Category Archives: Environmental Apocalypse

Global Warming on Life Support

 

The COP26 conference in Glasgow is into its last day of negotiations and deliberations. And as always happens, progress is made on the last day. Usually that means minimal progress. I think that is the correct characterization again.

Today I heard Michael Mann a widely respected climate change scientist say he was optimistic.  That shocked me. He said the Americans and Chinese made an agreement whereby they each committed to do more to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. That was good. But was it good enough?

According to the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is “on life support” as UN climate talks enter their final days, but he added that “until the last moment, hope should be maintained.”

The youthful protesters outside the conference walls have been protesting the lack of progress. Greta Thunberg said it was just so much “Blah, Blah, Blah.”  That’s what I thought too. I hope Mann is right and she is wrong. I was very pessimistic when I learned the fossil fuel industry had more representatives at the conference than any one country!  No wonder I saw a photo of one of the youthful protesters with a sign that read, “Why is the fossil fuel industry inside?”  That is a pretty good question.

A few years ago already the countries of the world promised to provide $100 billion dollars a year to undeveloped countries to compensate them for damages and losses they incurred as a result of climate change largely brought on by the wealthy countries of the world. So far, despite the promises they have not ponied up with the promised cash. The UN Secretary had the right response to this uncomfortable fact: “promises ring hollow when the fossil fuels industry still receives trillions in subsidies… or when countries are still building coal plants.” Such promises don’t just ring hollow; they stink.  Guterres as right when he said this gap exposed a “glaring injustice.” After all, the undeveloped countries have not caused the global warming, but they have been suffering the most. Not fair! Not helpful!

Code Red  for Humanity

 

The reports of the International Panel on Climate Change (‘IPCC’) are written in pretty turgid prose. After all, they must be agreed to by a large panel of scientists who are accustomed to talking in very dry scientific language that each member must agree to.  Then all the member countries must also approve. Some countries like the United States and Saudi Arabia and others are always alert to how they might be criticized so are careful about approving.  Inflammatory language is unlikely to ever get approved.  As Elizabeth Kolbert said in the New Yorker, “The process seemed guaranteed to produce gridlock, and, by many accounts, that was the point of it.” After all, entrenched interests want to remain entrenched. That is why they send delegates to the meetings to ensure that stays that way.

Every 5 or 6 years or so the IPCC updates its reports. The latest report prepared this year just before the meeting of the parties in Glasgow Scotland is not just turgid, but according to Kolbert, “pretty much impenetrable. Still it manages to terrify.” The U.N. Secretary-General was more clear and blunt. He called it a “code red for humanity.” That does not pull any punches.

The report  says it is “unequivocal” that the climate change is caused by humans. It has removed its slight qualifications from early reports such as “highly likely” or words to that effect. Doubt has been removed. Global temperatures are already higher than at any time in the past 125,000 years.

 

A few days before the report came out the Dixie Fire in northern California became the largest single fire on record. The one last year was bigger but it was made up of several fires that joined up. The day it was issued “two hundred million Americans were under some kind of heat advisory.”

Of course, what did the political leaders do? As Kolbert reported, “As the world fried and boiled, Washington continued to do what it does best, which is argue.” Let me make clear Canada of course was no better,. Politicians have been arguing for decades as the world gets hotter. Kolbert put it this way:

“Every day matters. Three decades have passed since the I.P.C.C. released its first report.  During that time, annual global emissions have nearly doubled and the amount of carbon in the atmosphere put there by humans has more than doubled. As a result, the world is rapidly approaching thresholds that no sane person would want to cross.’

 

We all wonder what will happen when temperatures continue to rise.  Kolbert said this about that:

“In the carefully vetted formulations of the I.P.C.C. ‘many changes in the climate system become larger in direct relation to increasing global warming.’ In other words, we really don’t want to find out. But unfortunately we are going to.”

 

Somethings it might be better not to know. The effects of climate increasing by 2ºC are one of them.

Reverse Dust Bowl-Lake Mead’s Changing Climate

 

This is what Oliver Milman said in the Guardian about recent weather that has already occurred:

“The heat has been otherworldly, with Phoenix recently enduring a record six straight days above 115F (46.1C). A “heat dome” that settled over usually mild Pacific north-west pushed temperatures to reach a record 108F (42.2C) in Seattle and caused power lines to melt and roads to buckle in Portland. A few hundred miles north, a fast-moving wildfire incinerated the town of Lytton in British Columbia the day after it set a Canadian temperature record of 121F (49.4C). Barely into summer, hundreds of people have already died from the heat along the west coast.”

 

We all know climate has changed before. The climate is constantly changing everywhere. After all, at one time Manitoba had alligators growing in the far north, but that was hundreds of millions of years ago. And now the climate is changing fast—incredibly fast.

You might not notice by looking at all the swimming pools in Arizona or California, or green golf courses, with brown rough around each fairway, or the many new lawns grown by Canadian snow birds who think a desert deserves a well-manicured and well-watered lawn, but the American southwest, that I love so much, has been in a megadrought for about 20 years! The lawns don’t show it, but Lake Mead sure does. Lakes don’t lie like lawns do.

Oliver Milman described it this way in his Guardian article:

“The west has gone through periods like this “megadrought” , with only occasional respite, for the past two decades. But scientists have made clear the current conditions would be virtually impossible without human-caused climate change, pointing to a longer-term “aridification” of the region. All of the water conservation efforts that have kept shortages at bay until now risk being surpassed by the rising heat.”

 

Water in the American southwest has always been scarce. Well at least for the last couple of hundred million years. Before that much of this area was under water in an inland sea. Milman interviewed someone who knows what is going on:

“The amount of water now available across the US west is well below that of any time in modern civilization,” said Park Williams, a hydro-climatologist at Columbia University. Research by Williams and colleagues last year analyzed tree rings to discover the current dry period is rivaled only by a spell in the late 1500s in a history of drought that reaches back to around 800, with the climate crisis doubling the severity of the modern-day drought.

“As the globe warms up, the west will dry out,” said Williams. “The past two years have been shocking to me, I never thought I would see downtown LA reach 111F as it’s so close to the ocean, but we have some of the driest conditions in 1,200 years so the dice are loaded for more heatwaves and fires. This could be the tip of the iceberg, we may well see much longer, tougher droughts.”

  

I want to emphasize that this has already occurred. The environmental apocalypse is already here. It is really just a question of how people will adapt to it now that it is here. Yet the future is far from rosy. As Milman reported,

“Even with these adaptions, however, the decline of Lake Mead has caused the amount of hydro power generated by the dam to drop by around 25%. The drought is expected to cause the hydro facility at Lake Oroville, California, to completely shut down, prompting a warning from the United States Energy Association that a “megadrought-induced electricity shortage could be catastrophic, affecting everything from food production to industrial manufacturing”. The association added that such a scenario could even force people to move east, in what it called a “reverse Dust Bowl exodus

 

I have friends of mine that have already sold their properties in Arizona. Not because they fear drought. Some got spooked by Covid-19, others were tempted to cash in good prices when the Canadian dollar was high. That wasn’t that long ago. Perhaps some of them might be grateful they left before the start of the reverse dust bowl. Time will tell. It always does.

A Shrinking Lake Mead

The decline of Lake Mead is obvious at first glance. One only has to look at the white bath tub ring in the reservoir which clearly shows where water levels used to be. We saw it clear as day when we were there a couple of years ago.  I took a photograph in 2016 a mere 5 years ago which I showed in a previous post.( http://themeanderer.ca/nature-always-bats-last) When I saw a photo in the Guardian I was shocked how much farther the water level had dropped. It was stunning.

As Oliver Milman reported in the Guardian,

The decline of Lake Mead is apparent even at a cursory glance. The US’s largest reservoir is now barely a third full, the dark basalt rock of its canyon walls blanched by a distinctive white calcium ring where the water level once was. This level has plunged by about 130ft in the past 20 years and is currently receding by about a foot a week as farms hit their peak irrigation period.

A lot of people go to Lake Mead for recreation including boating, fishing and swimming. According to Milman,

“The pace of change has been jarring to the millions of people who regularly boat, fish and swim on the lake, with the National Park Service recently laying down new steel platforms to extend launch ramps that no longer reach the water. Some marinas have been wrenched from their moorings and moved because they have been left marooned in baking sediment.”

 

Meanwhile Las Vegas, which gets nearly all of its water from Lake Mead, was recently the fastest growing city in the United States. Last year it had a record of 240 days without rain, but it is still growing. Now it has to worry about where it will get its water.

The Colorado River is the source of the water for Lake Mead and it is fed mainly by snow melt from the mountains but that snowmelt has declined by 19% since the 1950s. Because of that, and because so much of the water from the river is siphoned off for lawns, golf courses, drinking water, and above all agriculture in California, the Colorado River rarely reaches the Pacific Ocean anymore. Kayaks have to be carried on shoulders to get there. According to Milman,

“Only 1.8% of the west is not in some level of drought, with California, Arizona, and New Mexico all experiencing their lowest rainfalls on record. Lakes in Arizona are so low they can’t be used to fight the fires spurred by drought.”

Do cities like Las Vegas really make sense in a desert? How about Phoenix? Or Los Angeles? I don’t know what the future will bring, but it is bound to be interesting.

Extremes We’ve not seen

 

According to Guardian reporter Oliver Milman, the situation at the Hoover dam near Las Vegas is “emblematic of a planet slowly, inexorably overheating. And the catastrophic consequences of the extreme weather this brings.”  Lake Mead that straddles the Arizona and Nevada borders and was created by water backing up from the Hoover Dam, supplies water to 7 western states including my beloved Arizona, is running dry.

 

Michael Bernardo the river operations manager at the US Bureau of Reclamation, whose job it is to ensure that the reservoir delivers a steady reliable supply of water to nearly 40 million people including tribes from whose lands the river runs and from water is diverted into the reservoir,  said this

“the scarcity of water is out of bounds with historical norms. While there is no “average” year on the Colorado River, Bernardo and his colleagues were always able to estimate its flow within a certain range.

But since 2000, scientists say the river’s flow has dwindled by 20% compared to the previous century’s average. This year is the second driest on record, with the flow into Lake Mead just a quarter of what would be considered normal.”

 

 

Bernardo also said this when he pointed out how scenarios they had created had never led them to believe the water in the reservoir would reach such low levels:

“These are scenarios that aren’t necessarily where we expect to be in our models We’re getting those years that are at the extreme ends of the bell curve. We’ve seen extremes we haven’t seen before, we now have scenarios that are very, very dry.”

 

In June this past year the level of Lake Mead (the name given to the artificial reservoir created by the dam), dropped below 1,075ft, the point that will trigger, for the first time, federally mandated cuts in water allocations next year.

As Oliver Milman reported in the Guardian,

 “The Bureau of Reclamation (the government agency originally tasked with “reclaiming” this arid place for a new utopia of farmland and a booming western population), expects this historic low to spiral further, dropping to about 1,048ft by the end of 2022, a shallowness unprecedented since Lake Mead started filling up in the 1930s following Hoover dam’s completion. This will provoke a second, harsher, round of cuts.”

 

Those 7 states and tribes will be facing some harsh realities next year, because of what has already happened this year.  Like many Americans, I had heard for years about the levels of water dropping in Lake Mead, but it never really hit home. Now it has hit home.  This has already happened.  The southwest is committed to this. It has already happened though the consequences won’t be felt until next year. Perhaps some people are still living in FantasyLand. Many of us like to live there.

Kathryn Sorensen, a water policy expert at Arizona State University, my second University I have enjoyed so much the last few years with Chris, made things plain:

“We’ve known this point will arrive because we’ve continued to use more water than the river provides for years,” said Kathryn Sorensen, a water policy expert at Arizona State University. “Things look pretty grim. Humans have always been good at moving water around but right now everyone will need to do what it takes to prevent the system from crashing.”

 

If the second round of cuts occurs as most now expect, Arizona will lose nearly 1/5th of the water it gets from the Colorado River, the greatest source of water in Arizona.  Nevada has a lower cut, based on an agreement made between the states and tribes more than a 100 years ago when few people were crazy enough to live there, only gets a small share to start out with. I think Las Vegas gets most of its water from there. It could be in big doo doo (that’s a technical engineering term).

Some people think that this situation is temporary because when people talk about a 20-year drought in the region that sounds like it won’t last for ever.  These people are not taking climate change into consideration. But this is change that has already occurred. As Colby Pellegrino, deputy general manager of resources for the Southern Nevada Water Authority said to the Guardian, “Everyone’s going to have to do more with less, and that’s really going to be challenging for people,” she said. “‘Drought’ suggests to a lot of people something temporary we have to respond to, but this could permanently be the type of flows we see.” Doing “more with less” is not something North Americans (other than indigenous people) are accustomed to.

Nature always bats last

 

 

It first dawned on me that climate change was here and now when I read an article bby Oliver MIlman  in the Guardian Weekly this summer about the Hoover Dam. I had visited the dam a couple of years ago when Chris and I drove to Las Vegas to pick up her sister who had flown in from Winnipeg. The dam was an awesome sight. But like many others I was struck by the white “bathtub ring” of the reservoir that showed graphically how the level in the reservoir had been dropping for decades.

 

The article in the Guardian had a very similar photo of the reservoir but the water level had dropped even more. That was hard to believe. It was also hard to swallow.  After living there for 3 months each year for about half a dozen years I have fallen in love with the American southwest. It is a place of awesome beauty and fascination. I consider it my second home.

 

The Guardian described the situation at Lake Mead this way: “The situation here is emblematic of a planet slowly, inexorably overheating. And the catastrophic consequences of the extreme weather this brings.”  The reservoir created by the dam is the largest reservoir in North America. It is an amazing sight. Yet the level of water in the reservoir has plummeted to historic lows. This could cause many places in the southwest including my beloved Arizona to face some steep cuts in their water supplies and they don’t have a lot of alternative sources of water. They have already used a lot of ingenuity to get at water and the supply is limited. Someone once said the wars of the 21st century will be founded on water issues like the wars of the 20th century had their basis in oil.

 

First, we must all admit that it really does not make sense that the American southwest being as dry as it, is home to such huge cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. That was only possible because of the huge efforts made by Americans to tame the desert.  They wanted to control nature. Matin Heidegger, by way of Friedrich Nietzsche referred to this idea as the will to power, and there are few better examples of it than this region. Those imbued with will-to-power in this sense want to tame nature. As Oliver Milman said,

“Had the formidable white arc of the Hoover dam never held back the Colorado River, the US west would probably have no Los Angeles or Las Vegas as we know them today. No sprawling food bowl of wheat, alfalfa and corn. No dreams of relocating to live in a tamed desert. The river, and dam, made the west; now the climate crisis threatens to break it.”

 

The dam is a demonstration of engineering at its finest (or if you like its most brutal). As Milman said, “The engineering might of Hoover dam undoubtably reshaped America’s story, harnessing a raucous river to help carve huge cities and vast fields of crops into unforgiving terrain.”

 The Hoover dam is huge (though much smaller than the 3 Gorges Dam we saw in China). It is as high as a 60-story building and is 45ft thick at the top and 660ft at the bottom. It was built during the extremes of the Great Depression and was a source of national pride when it was done. It was an engineering marvel.

 But that was then; this is now. Now nature seems to be fighting back. And like they say, “Nature always bats last.”  Thanks in part to climate change, also man made, the region is in the midst of a historic drought. As a result, the dam may no longer make sense, even though it is so badly needed. As Milman said, “We bent nature to suit our own needs,” said Brad Udall, a climate and water expert at Colorado State University. “And now nature is going to bend us.

We must learn to stop fighting nature and instead learn to work with nature. Climate change is proving that we need a new attitude to nature. And we need it quickly.

Climate Emergency Today

 

2021 has been astonishing for many reasons, not just Covid-19.  In fact, Covid-19 might not be the most astonishing thing to have happened this year. We have been experiencing what scientists have been warning us about for at least 3 decades, probably more. Climate change is here, it is bad, and it is real—very real.

 

There was a glaring example of what the new world, after climate change, will look like and it happened in one of the most unlikely spots namely coastal British Columbia the place that is famous for mild weather far from the extremes.  That was before climate change. Now it is famous for extreme weather. How is that possible? How? Climate change of course.

This summer the tiny town of Lytton B.C.  experienced the hottest temperature in Canada’s history—49.6ºC. Not only that, it shattered the previous record for that area by 7 ºC and  it shattered the Canadian record by 5ºC.  In fact, it defied all computer modelling of how the world might change as emissions rose. It was beyond the most extreme that has been considered possible by scientists.

 

Much of this was the consequence of something I had never heard of before—a heat dome. A heat dome works like this: hot air is blown in from the ocean and meets existing warm conditions on the land and then the hot air tries to rise, as it usually does, but is trapped and compressed by the atmospheric high pressure above it. The heat that is trapped then intensifies with the “dome” where it diverts the jet stream.   When the heat dome diverts the jet stream to the north that prevents cooler air from coming south and replacing the warm air.

 

The young climate activist from Sweden Greta Thunberg has been the best spokesman for what is going on. She has described this as an “emergency”. Many people say they agree with her; it is an emergency, but they are not acting that way.

This past year during the Covid-19 pandemic I had an emergency moment. I thought I had Covid-19.  I had a very high fever that did not go away. After waiting awhile I decided to take a brief nap to see if it would go away. It didn’t; it got worse.  Chris drove me to the hospital emergency room. Frankly, I was convinced without doubt that I had Covid-19. Extreme fever was, I had been told, the best sign of Covid-19. When I got to the hospital, I explained to the staff that I thought I had Covid-19. They took seriously what I said.

There was no more waiting in the Emergency Room I was whisked into the emergency ward, I was stripped of my clothes and dignity, forced to change into hospital clothes and was immediately subjected to all kinds of tests, including a test for Covid-19. The hospital team immediately went to work without  delay.

I thought I might die. That thought entered my mind. Later I l my physician said “your fever was so high old men like you do not usually survive such high temperatures as you had.” The staff jumped to the pump and saved my life. I was very grateful.  I may be an old man, but I wanted to live a little longer.

It turned out I did not have Covid-19, but I had pneumonia which at such high temperatures is also very dangerous. It was an emergency and the staff acted like it was an emergency. I was very grateful that the staff treated it like an emergency and did not mouth platitudes.

Greta Thunberg has said we are in a climate emergency. I have not heard any trustworthy person say she is wrong. Yet no one has jumped into action to save the planet in any comparable sense. Why is that? Does no one care? Is it that people don’t really think it is an emergency. By and large it is business as usual with minor adjustments such as changing lightbulbs. By our inaction we are guaranteeing disaster, not for the planet, it will survive, but for much of life on the planet, including human life. It will be disastrous.

Bill Maher, in his own inimical style said it well: “We are in a Thelma and Louise moment, holding hands and driving off the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Climate change is here. Does any one believe business as usual makes sense?

 

Heat is Here

 

Many people don’t realize this but it’s true.  In Manitoba when it comes to extreme weather, more people die from heat than cold! To me that is unbelievable. And with rising global warming things are bad now but will soon get worse.

As Mia Rabson reported in the Winnipeg Free Press,

“A new report examining the health impacts of climate change says more Canadians than ever are facing serious health risks from heat waves and wildfires, prompting warnings from doctors that we need to do more to adapt to the reality of a warmer planet.”

 

There is little doubt that this problem is created by human activity and not natural conditions.  This was made clear by a report in Lancet Countdown led by Marina Romanello, a biochemist at London’s Institute for Global Health. As Rabson reported,

“In Canada, the authors note, the heat dome that descended on British Columbia and parts of the Prairies in June and July “would have been almost impossible without human-caused climate change.”

 

Romanello also said, “This year we saw people suffering intense heat waves, deadly floods and wildfires. These are grim warnings that for every day that we delay our response to climate change, the situation gets more critical.” That heat wave in B.C. last several weeks and recorded a temperature of 49.6 C, the highest temperature ever seen in Canada. And that is was in B.C. where we only expect mild temperatures.

In other words, the apocalypse is here. Don’t wait for it because it will only get worse. If we are smart, we will halt it here and now, but we can’t make things better. A lot of climate change is already locked in.

According to the Lancet article that heat wave of which we had a milder version in Manitoba caused the death of 570 people in Canada. Think about that 570 deaths in Canada, a northern country!  According to that report,

“Across Canada, the risk of death from extreme heat for Canada’s seniors rose more than 50 per cent in the last four years, compared with the years 2000 to 2004. Exposures to wildfires grew almost 20 per cent in that time, but not uniformly, with Indigenous Peoples at much higher risk.”

 

Inevitably, First Nations people get the short end of the stick. Rabson reported that “First Nations people living on a reserve are 33 times more likely to be forced to evacuate due to a forest fire than people living off reserve, the Lancet report said.”

That is not just because so many indigenous people live in forests. Many of them live in cities.

The report also said that around the world 20% of the world’s land surface suffered extreme drought in 2020 when the annual drought’s never exceeded that once between 1950 and 1999.

Who still thinks I am alarmist when I say the environmental apocalypse is here and now? As Dr. Courtney Howard an emergency physician in Yellowknife and past president of, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment said this year the focus was more heavily on the need for adapting to the fact that “climate change isn’t just real, it’s already hurting us”.

The authors of that report made another very interesting observation:

“The authors are also highly critical of the federal government for allowing itself to be heavily influenced by lobbying from the oil and gas industry. They said in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, fossil fuel industries and associations met with federal officials 1,224 times, an average of 4.5 meetings every day.

Comparatively, they say environment groups met with federal officials 303 times.

“Energy transition policy must be developed without such excessive industry pressure,” the report said.”

This is another example of what I have called predatory capitalism. That is something I intend to say more about in future blog posts. When creatures are weak and suffering the predators circle.

Extreme Weather is here to Stay

 

One of the consequences of climate change according to the scientists is extreme weather. If we have it more often will it still be extreme?

The summer of 2021 was extreme by many standards. One of them was clearly extreme weather. For example, in Canada the record hottest temperature was experienced in British Columbia of all places. And the record was broken by 5ºC.  B.C. had a day where the high temperature reached 46.9 which was 5ºC above the previous Canadian high. Climate models did not even consider such a high temperature. It was literally off the charts for B.C. Scientists have said that such extreme temperatures would be “virtually  impossible” It was caused by what the scientists have called a  “heat dome.”

Europe experienced the year of the deluge. As a result, western Germany and Belgium experienced floods caused by a near stationary low pressure system. As a result 160 people as a result of flooding. In the town of Bad Neuenahr one of the worst hit areas, 98 of the those people died including 12 that died in a home for the disabled. In addition thousands  were rendered homeless as a result of the devastation. The river Erft poured into a gravel quarry triggering a landslide that collapsed houses nearby. The quarry had been expanded in 2015 and in order to get the permit  the owner was required to build a 1.2 km protective wall to prevent the pit from filling with water in he event of a flood. Unfortunately the wall was ineffective to hold off the deluge when the water overflowed higher up the river gushing through a local town. As the Guardian reported, “But the kind of extreme weather events the world is seeing with increasing frequency come with unpredictable consequences.”

In fact, you expand that thought. Climate change is coming with unpredictable consequences. We are conducting a global experiment with our civilization and do not know what the consequences will be. We just know they will be extreme. Extreme weather events bring extreme consequences. We are doing what people have never done before.

The rainfall in nearby Cologne reached 155 mm which was an astonish 60 mm above the previous record.

Records are being broken everywhere. Many of these records are ones we don’t want to break. As the Guardian reported,

“First, more records are being broken more often;  the world’s seven hottest years in recorded history have all come since 2014. Second, scientists can use statistical analysis and computer models to calculate how much more likely particular weather events become as a result of the extra stress people have put on the climate system.  For example, human emissions made the deadly “heat dome” in North America last month at least 150 times more likely and the prolonged heatwave in Siberia last year more than 600 times more probable.”

 

While I am concentrating on what has already happened—the apocalypse now—such numbers are disturbing. The weather event on the west coast killed an estimated 1 billion marine creatures. The recent spike at Lytton increased the Canadian record for highest temperature in Canada by 5 degrees. Now such events are more than 150 times more likely.  A killing heat wave in Siberia, of all places, is now 600 times more likely.

This has made many people there wonder what the actual costs of climate change will turn out to be. No one knows of course, but the costs will be massive. As the Guardian said, “There is no scientific consensus, but experts are increasingly concerned the world could be in for a bumpier ride than previously thought.”

Once more of these extreme weather events have already happened, there will be more. We will pay more.  Soon extreme weather won’t be extreme anymore.   I don’t know about you, but I don’t like bump rides and don’t need them any bumpier.

 

Don’t Worry about the future; Worry About Now

 

I am worried about the future Not my future so much. Frankly, at 72, how many years do I have left? How many good years? Even less. I worry about the future of my grandchildren. I have 4 of them between the ages of 2 and 15. Their future is frightening.

But the present is already bad enough.  British Columbia, long thought of as a province with mild climate, this past year  produced a high of 49.6ºc this year. It now holds the record for the hottest day in Canada. That record was 5ºC above the previous high! During that heat wave an estimated 1 billion marine animals died in the waters off the west coast. This has already happened. It is not in the far distant future.

This year Madagascar had the worst drought in 40 years leaving a million people facing food shortages.  The climate writer David Wallace said this meant it was a “permanent emergency.” That is where we are now.

Yet where is our political will now?  As the Guardian said, “So far, binding commitments to make the cuts in carbon emissions need to avoid temperature rises above 2C are notable by their absence.” The countries of the world are about to meet in Scotland. Will they do any better? I doubt it. I hope I’m wrong.

The Guardian talked about “threats” because it is likely that the computer models are underestimating those threats.  It also warned about “nightmarish possibilities.”

What about nightmarish realities that are already with us?