Dead Planet vs. Tolerable Winters

Rhythmic drips from the roof flash by the window, something other than the raven calling in the morning, and the occasional whiff of thawed soil.

Can it be?

The whisper of spring in the air?

One can’t help but get excited.

The myth of the early spring: superstitious people are reluctant to talk about it, like saying “Candyman” into the mirror three times. But, maybe spring has arrived (knock on wood).

I learned my lesson in premature spring-enthusiasm. A similar warm spell in an earlier March, which triggered my announcement that spring had arrived. It was time to forget about dwindling firewood and snow shovelling.

The weathered locals laughed at my assertion that it only made sense to start planning for the snow-free season. They were right. A sudden –30C spell and a foot of snow knocked me back to early January.

These Yukon vets, who say “you don’t know cold,” learned this lesson long ago and know the longevity of winter in the North. But there’s a new element in the mix: global warming.

This winter (to March) was 4C above average, being the warmest Canadian winter ever recorded (10th in the Yukon area). Yes, El Niño has a part, but Canadian winter temperatures have risen 2.5C in the last 63 years.

Temperature increases have been greater in the North (Google 2010). Scientists and others think it will have bad effects.

But is it all bad? If you ask any North-of-60er about their views on global warming, the typical response may be talk of losing the polar bear or retreating permafrost.

But if you look deep into their eyes, you may also see a little flicker of joy.

This is a Yukoner realizing the obvious, but enlightening facts about global warming: 1) it will be warmer, and 2) spring will come earlier.

So, why are we trying to cut emissions? Some may latch onto these facts and idle their full-sized truck a bit unnecessarily, buy a few cows and invest in coal. But can you blame them?

Ironically, the Northerner who may be the most influenced by global warming, may also be the most likely to turn up the global thermostat. The sight of an early spring can have strange effects on a person.

Of course, greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced if for nothing else than the cost. And I’m not saying global warming is good, I’m just saying it will get warmer and winters will be shorter.

You be the judge.

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