Monday, July 29, 2013

A Frightening Glimpse of Weird Weather to Come…

By Glenys O'Connell @GlenysOConnell

A report just out says that global warming is going to cost 60 trillion dollars over ten years - an amount equal to the (annual)global economy.

So often, we think these issues don't really affect us. Here in Ontario, we don’t usually get massive tornadoes or hurricanes like they do in some parts of the world, but it seems the weather is definitely changing. This summer came late and hot,  following on the heels of heavy rains that delayed some garden activities and farm crops.

We’ve had huge rain storms with record breaking rainfall; 98 degree humidity, and breathtaking wind storms and thunderous light shows. We have spent days under tornado warnings, severe thunderstorm warnings, and humidex warnings. Humidex scores boosted 34 degree weather into the stratosphere.

Power usage skyrocketed as we tried to keep cool. We were lucky - the infrastructure is sound and we experienced only brief power outages. But we see reflected in television news the affects on other places. Systems failed. Floods. Drought. Crop damage.

In the last storm, strong winds brought down two trees on our small property and seriously damaged several others. But the storm damage was amazingly random. My favourite birch tree was split in two, while the delicate grape arbour next to it was unscathed, leaving the tenderly cared for two year old grapevine to nurture its precious cargo of fruit. Century old cedar trees stood firm by the house, yet a strong young cedar in their shelter on the boundary line was uprooted and crashed onto the lawn.
Tall spears of Yucca were battered, their blossoms mutilated, while fragile calliopsis, though beaten down, rose up to again greet the warming sun with little damage. The seven feet tall Golden Glow,
just coming into flower, were smashed to the ground while the exotic clematis next to them managed to cling to the upright trellis and come through without a scratch.

Many flowering plants have put out mostly foliage – the heavy rains mashed my beautiful peonies into mush and other plants like lilacs and hydrangeas have had spectacular but short lived blooms.
It seems that even in this remote and pristine spot, surrounded by forests, rocks and freshwater lakes, we’re not immune to climate change. Anyone who grows their own vegetables can see firsthand the impact the weather can have on our food supplies.

Climate change is a creeping – and sometimes galloping – reality. For a writer, the dramatic effects can offer some great plot ideas and exciting visions.
But for the earth, well, not so much.
We waste too much. Use too much. Destroy too much. We take too much from the earth and give too little back. Animals and plants, a vital but often unrecognised part of out interdependency on this planet, are going extinct at alarming rates.
It's time, way past time, for all of us to think what we can do, and to press our governments to change direction before - well, before we go the way of the dinosaurs.
Meanwhile, back in the veggie garden the broccoli, lettuce and Chinese cabbage (bok choi) all bolted with the heat. In the sudden cool spell, the peas and beans are flourishing, but the zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers all look like they can’t make their minds up whether to produce or not. The cherry trees blossomed in heavy rain and pollination was, to use a cliché, a washout. The apple trees are bravely hanging onto their fruit but too many sharp temperature changes – it went from 29C yesterday to  5C here last night – could cause them to drop.

Still, we’re out there planting and replanting, cleaning up the damage, chopping wood and staking the plants that need it, deadheading and pruning. I’m expecting a sudden growth and high speed production towards the end of August and early September among the surviving veggies, although that means we’ll probably have a lot of green tomato chutney this winter!

Glenys O'Connell has retreated to the Middle of Nowhere, where she tries to keep her From her footprint on the earth small. On her back patio, where she does much of her writing in the summer, she can watch deer, raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels and the occasional bear passing by. She loves to hear from readers and can be contacted through her web site at or by email at




Jannine Gallant said...

I agree, Glenys, the weather is changing. Hotter summers and less snow in the winters. We've never had so many 90+ degree days in Tahoe. Usually we max out in the mid 80's but not this year!

Barbara Edwards said...

I believe that global climate cycles are normal, not man-made. Anyone who grew up when they taught us about weather knows better than believe in the chaos kooks. So much of the panic is caused by people who will make millions of dollars off the gullible like Al Gore, the multi-billionaire from his business.

glenys said...

Barbara, there are definitely cycles in weather, sometimes over thousands of years. But what is happening now is different - the effects of industry and pollution are creating situations similar to the major events which caused the ice ages and the extinction of the dinosaurs. Blaming 'chaos kooks' is painting a vast number of responsible scientists and experts with the same brush and that amounts to sticking one's head in the sand and hoping the problem goes away.Guess we may just have to agree to differ on this one!