Sage Wit Turns 11 Years Old— and How ‘bout This Crazy Weather?

My blog Sage Wit turned 11 years old on Sunday (June 27). My muse, along with my blog, went on an extended hiatus for a few years, but she (the muse) has finally returned—refreshed and ready to write again.

My very first blog post, “Tyrannosaurus Rex Goes to the Mall,” was about climate change, and as we in the Pacific Northwest are all currently cooking in one of the craziest heat waves ever, it seems that now is a good time to revisit climate change.

Over the past 72 hours, Lytton, BC, (a small village about 155 km north of Vancouver) broke the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded in Canada three days in a row: 46.6°C on June 27, 2021; 47.9°C on June 28, 2021; and 49.6°C on June 29, 2021. According to an article on the CTV News website, the previous record for the hottest temperature in Canada was 45°C, set in July 1937 (84 years ago) in Saskatchewan. The temperature in Lytton, BC, yesterday (June 29) even exceeded the record high temperature of 49.2°C in Banda, UP, India, set in 2019, and was only 0.7°C away from matching the hottest place in India (Churu, Rajasthan) in 2019 according to this Times of India story. At latitudes of roughly 49°–50° north of the equator, those of us living in southwestern BC should be alarmed that we are reaching record high temperatures that exceed, or are almost on par with, record breaking temperatures in subtropical regions of the globe. Our ecosystems did not evolve to survive in these kinds of temperatures (many of the orchard fruits in BC are literally being cooked on the trees in this heat), nor was our infrastructure designed to handle extreme heat

While an intense heat wave such as this would normally be considered a freak event (especially this early in the summer) —one of those once in a thousand year events—our climate is getting warmer at a rapidly accelerating pace, courtesy of human activity over the past 271 years, and we are no longer in “normal times.” This heat dome is a harbinger of what we’re going to be in for on a regular basis, long before the end of this century, and this is what climate change looks like at less than 2°C of global warming! Drawing on a statement published on June 15, 2021, by UC Berkeley climate scientist Michael Wehner, Axios News climate reporter Andrew Freedman notes in a recent article that extreme heat events such as this current heat dome “are now on average about 3 to 5°F hotter than they would be without the many decades of greenhouse gas emissions.” (28 June 2021, “Northwest ‘heat dome’ signals global warming’s march” Accessed June 30, 2021).

According to 350.org, our planet’s atmosphere had contained around 280 ppm of carbon dioxide for over 400,000 years prior to the Industrial Revolution. It took humans roughly 260 years to add an additional 105 ppm of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere between 1750 and 2010 (we reached 385 ppm of CO2 in 2010). In April of this year (2021), we reached 420 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (see this story by Common Dreams on the EcoWatch website).  Think about that: It took 260 years to add 105 ppm of carbon dioxide (generated by human activities involving fossil fuels, deforestation and large-scale agriculture) to the atmosphere, and it took only 11 short years to add almost half that amount again to the atmosphere.

We are already seeing the occurrence of tipping points and feedback loops that further exacerbate global warming and climate change, so the best we can do now is to start recapturing carbon and urging our elected officials to act on policies that move us in a much greener direction much faster. Stay tuned for a deeper dive into some ways to sink carbon and find out why blue is the new green.

Just to let you know, I will be switching to a new feedburner for the next blog, so if you get repeats of posts or requests to (re)subscribe to Sage Wit, it is most likely from me.

June 30, 2021 · Susan · No Comments
Posted in: Environment