Today the news, besides the multiple corruption scandals and a serial killer, had a theme. First up: this crazy heatwave (technically not a heatwave since this is only day 2; a heatwave is 3). Record breaking temperatures. Next: there is a gigantic sinkhole downtown because of unusual flooding from a few weeks ago. The road just gave way, and they don't know how deep the hole is. Last: a warning to check yourself for ticks, since there has been an invasion of the parasites and lyme disease coming up from the states.
At first, these just seem like random, crappy luck. Bad weather. Bad ecology. But I'm 1/3 into reading Bill McKibbin's book Eaarth, which at this point is a narrative of all of the terrible, expensive, crappy luck that has happened because of climate change. Islands disappearing from rising sea levels. Droughts in Africa. Polar bears. We know these big, iconic results of climate change, but it's getting worse. We used to just be able to say "oh yeah, the polar bears might one day die from climate change". Ice caps, or something. It used to be somewhere else, someone else, someone else's problem. But flooding (lookin' at you, Burlington), super warm winters (lookin' at you, skiiers), weird temperatures (remember wearing a tshirt on St Patrick's day?), abnormal temperatures that affect agriculture production (lookin' at my dad, who had a terrible maple syrup season), and now this heat wave is making it hit home. Literally. My apartment is sweltering, and we're not even July yet.
The news tonight had at least three stories about the effects of climate change. Was "global warming" or "climate change" even mentioned? Even "changing" and "climate" kinda maybe in the same sentence? Nope. They didn't even explain why the Ontario government now has to spend money for public service announcements to tell people about increased lyme disease: The ticks are getting more up north because it's linked to warmer temperatures, since normally they can't survive our winters.
I come from a science background, so I tend to be very cautious when saying something is definitely caused by something else. I'm a skeptic, of everything. I don't want to say that something is for sure until I've seen pretty good proof of it. I understand why a mainstream reporter wouldn't say that this is because of climate change. The blog comments and editorials would come out: we don't even know if climate change is real, the scientists are wrong, there isn't much proof of all this stuff anyway. I did my Master's research on behaviour change related to saving energy. I know the psychology behind all of this. Climate change is scary. It's too crazy to be real.
But it's happening. Right now.