Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: climate change

Will the Paris climate conference save us from the dastardly Chinook wind?

Leonardo DiCaprio was filming in Calgary in January of this year when a Chinook wind came up. It terrified him. “We would come and there would be eight feet of snow, and then all of a sudden a warm gust of wind would come.” “…it was scary. I’ve never experienced something so firsthand that was so dramatic. You see the fragility of nature and how easily things can be completely transformed with just a few degrees difference. It’s terrifying, and it’s what people are talking about all over the world. And it’s simply just going to get worse.”

He claims that some local on the film crew told him “This has never happened in our province ever.” There is a serious misunderstanding here, nobody could live in Calgary and be ignorant of the Chinook winds that visit southwestern Alberta dozens of times every winter.

A Chinook begins on the Pacific and comes ashore laden with moisture. This moisture falls as rain in the coastal regions and as snow further inland and on the western slope of the Rockies. When the wind comes over the top of the mountains it has shed all its moisture and flows down the mountain and across the prairie as a warm dry wind. Chinooks have been known to melt a foot of snow in an hour.

There are numerous folk tales about Chinooks. In one case, a farmer in pioneer days is said to have been going to town in a sleigh drawn by a team of horses and just keeping pace with the front of the Chinook. The horses were belly deep in snow, the sleigh was in mud up to the buckboard and the cow tied behind the sleigh was kicking up dust on the road.

This is climate change all right – and it has been happening many times every winter as far back as anyone can trace the history of the area. The First Nations people have legends about how the Chinook came to be.

The real problem here is that people have been told so many scary stories that anything that is not familiar to them becomes evidence of impending doom. I have more confidence in the Creator than in all the world powers and experts who were gathered in Paris to try to save the planet.

What will it profit a man to save the planet and lose his own soul?

 

The first day of winter

Today is the winter solstice, the day when winter officially begins.  In real life, we’ve had a month of winter here already, with far too many days when the temperature went down to -30°  Celsius at night and only went up by 5 or 10 degrees in the daytime.

Our two youngest cats insist on going out whenever they see the sun shining brightly outside.  Pookie, the youngest, soon comes in and seems thankful for a warm home.  Angus stays out longer but doesn’t venture off the back step into the snow.  When he comes in, he begins to wail in an accusing tone: “Who stole my summer?  What did you guys do with the green grass, the birds and all the other living things?”

Panda, the oldest, remains curled up in a chair.  Elle a déjà vu neiger.  This is French for she has seen it snow before, which is the French equivalent of she wasn’t born yesterday.

I was born in winter time, which means I am now entering my 72nd winter.  I have seen all kinds and it seems like lately we are getting back to the kind of long winters I knew as a boy.

But there are still “experts” telling us that the world is getting warmer and we need to take drastic measures to avoid an apocalypse.  My experience, and the reading of history, convinces me that there is no such thing as normal weather.  What we call normal is only the average of the extremes.

It seems foolish to take a few years weather data and extrapolate  a long term trend from it, especially when more recent data does not support the original predictions.  I’m afraid the main expertise of the “experts” is in sowing panic.

I’m with Panda, there’s no point getting excited about the weather.  But maybe I’m a little like Angus, too — it does make a good topic of conversation.

 

The pride of man

When I was a teenager, scientists were predicting that a new ice age was somewhere just over the horizon.  Around the same time (these were the cold war days) the media was publishing speculations that severe weather conditions were the result of secret Russian experiments at weather control.  The U.S. military was spending a lot of money to research the possibility of climatological warfare.  That probably made it easier for the “experts” to believe that the Russians were already a step ahead.

In more recent years, there has been a lot of scary talk about “man-made climate change”.  The evidence for that is no more realistic than the “evidence” of Russian climate control experiments. In fact, scientists are now going back to saying that we are entering a cycle of reduced sun spot activity that will lead to a 200 to 250-year period of cooler temperatures: a mini ice age.  I believe this is where I came in.

But aren’t severe storms, floods and earthquakes becoming more frequent?  Didn’t the Canadian government issue a news release some years ago showing conclusive proof of this?  Well no, it didn’t.  The department of the Canadian government named in this bulletin did not exist.  The data was equally bogus.

Major destructive earthquakes, storms and floods have been happening for centuries.  Three things have changed that make it seem worse: 1) increasing population and rapidly growing urban agglomerations mean a greater chance of large numbers of people being affected by these events; 2) urban development, road network development and agricultural development have altered natural drainage patterns, increasing the odds of catastrophic flooding; 3) increased communication and  news media make us aware of every disaster that happens anywhere in the world.  This, along with an ignorance of history, combines to create the impression that things are rapidly getting worse.

The reality is that the natural forces at work which affect our weather are hundreds of times more powerful than anything man can do.  It is the pride of man that makes him believe that he should be able to control his environment.

I believe that God has made this world in such a way that we will be subject to the occasional shaking of the solid ground beneath our feet, rising waters that scrub away all traces of human activity, and winds that toss man-made structures around like matchsticks.  These are reminders that we are not in control.  Those who put their trust in man will continually be catastrophically disappointed.

“Oh God, the pride of man, broken in the dust again.”*

*From Pride of Man, written by Hamilton Camp, as sung by Gordon Lightfoot.

Is God Laughing?

On the strength of 71 years of experience, I have concluded that there is no such thing as normal weather.  The figures we are given as “normals for the period” are just averages of many years of abnormal weather.

There was the Medieval Warm Period 1,000 years ago when Lief Erickson and his men landed in Newfoundland and found grapes growing.  The remains of their settlement have been found, but it’s too cold for grapes to grow there anymore.

Geologists also speak of a “little ice age” extending from the 16th to the 19th centuries, with longer winters causing crop failures, poor fish catches and other hardships.

In recent years we have been bombarded with news of impending doom caused by man-made global warming.  The panic created in certain sectors of the population appears to be financially and politically profitable for the doom-sayers.

Fairly accurate weather records are available for about the past 100 years.  Anything before that consists of estimates drawn from whatever evidence is available.  Environment Canada now tells us that they have no way of knowing if our snowfall this winter is a record.  They used to measure snowfall on the ground with a ruler, taking the average of several measurement sites at a given location.  They decided a couple of years ago that this was too inaccurate and abandoned it.  Now they measure the moisture content of a snowfall with a rain gauge, but admit the amount of snow collected is affected by the wind.  In other words, there is no accurate means of measuring snowfall, never has been.

In the 1930’s, the weather here on the prairies varied from intense heat in the summer to at least one unusually cold winter.  I wasn’t around then, but I do remember the winter of 1947-48.  My mother used to have a photo of me standing on top of a snow drift in our farm driveway, between the trees,  that was at least 15 feet deep.  A passenger train got trapped near Mossbank for several days that winter during a blizzard; folks from town carried food to the passengers.

I remember highs up to 105° Fahrenheit (40.5° Celsius) and lows down to -50° Fahrenheit (-45.5° Celsius) during the 1950’s.  I walked a half mile to school several mornings in -50° temperatures.  The 1990’s tended to be warmer than usual, peaking in 1998, but since then the weather has been cooling again.

It is now officially spring by the calendar.  The “normal” temperatures (long term averages) for this time of year are a low of -7° Celsius and a high of +3° Celsius.  Tuesday morning it was -27°.

Yesterday a blizzard blew up.  Our two oldest grandchildren had dental appointments in Saskatoon.  Our daughter left the two youngest children with us, picked up the older two from school and headed for the city.  She hadn’t gone very far when she came to a spot on the highway where she could barely get through the snowdrifts.  Once through, there was no place close to turn around and go back so she kept going.  She chose a different route to come home and made it to within ten miles, where three semis were stuck on the highway.  She pulled into the yard of another family from our congregation and Ken came with his four wheel drive pickup and brought her home, picking up the two youngest on the way.

It is still blowing this morning.  Our driveway is impassible, the half mile of gravel road to the highway is impassible, the highway is impassible.  The Department of Highways called Ken for help in opening up the highway (Ken is an excavation contractor).  The first drift they came to was four feet deep.

This is spring!  In a time of “global warming”!  Is God laughing?

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