Speaking of the Weather

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows —Bob Dylan

Preamble Used to be that talking about the weather was a serviceable way of breaking the ice or shooting the breeze. Lately it’s become something rather more than either of those.

First Approximation


he Climate Crisis is really just the answer to a dangerous question, What do you get when you cut down too many living trees as fibre and dig up too many dead trees as fossil fuels? Well now we know.

In 1996, David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada, began publishing an annual Canada-wide weather summary called Canada’s Top Ten Weather Stories. His first posting came out in December of that year and has continued every December since then.

In his early posts, until the mid 2010s, Phillips tells us he had trouble rounding up weather stories enough to meet his quota. But not anymore. Indeed, with portions of Canada warming two to four times faster than the global average, extreme weather events have multiplied from infrequent to routine.

lightning by Ziemore at Polish Wikipedia
©Ziemore at Polish Wikipedia

What They’re Saying

The following summaries from 2017 through 2023 capture this trend and, to my mind, give a powerful sense of meteorological crescendo:

2017: Our climate is changing, and it’s happening here and now.

2018: Weather changes in Canada are happening abruptly not subtly, rapidly not gradually.

2019: Canadians must become more resilient – not only for what lies ahead but also for the climate that is already here.

2020: Records continue to topple like never before, often dramatically shattering previous records.

2021: Canadians witnessed the real threat and impact of climate change all around them and were shocked by the variety and frequency of weather extremes.

2022: When it comes to the weather, exceptional has become the ordinary. Around the world, once in a lifetime storms are now happening back-to-back.

2023: The degree of devastation across Canada in 2023 was difficult to comprehend. … more than half the countries in the world could fit their geography into the total area burned this year in Canada.

Reading this commentary, and knowing these are still early days for the Climate Crisis, I get the sense that we’re in for a wide ride. You?

May a favourable wind be at your back always —Trevor

P.S. This is probably as good a place as any to state in so many words that I refuse in this website to be drawn into the question of how, or by what manner of means, the Climate Crisis constitutes an existential threat to human kind. For one thing, I don’t own a crystal ball. And for another – and call me superstitious if you like – I feel that spelling this out in writing, bringing into focus the ever lengthening row of black dominoes aligning themselves in real time before us, is in a small, lower-case-way like uttering a curse on young people, like releasing into the world a self-fulfilling prophecy. No, leave that to the analysts, the pundits, the people who find pleasure in focussing forever on the parts. For my part, I’ll keep my eye on the big picture, thank you very much.

Next up: Pandoracene