When I was growing up in the Peace country in the 1970s, old-timers used to say spring and fall last 10 minutes up there.
It happened again this spring, with a hot wind sweeping across the prairies to bring an abrupt end to winter. A rash of dry grass fires spread into at least one significant forest fire north of Fort St. John.
Many B.C. residents don’t appreciate that the northeast corner is on the other side of the Rockies. It’s a different place economically, geologically and climatically.
You see sudden chinooks in winter, like the one that confused actor and climate alarmist Leonardo DiCaprio in Alberta. You see snowfalls in August, dry spells, and temperatures plunging to –50.
Premier Christy Clark happened to be in Fort St. John to speak at a rally calling for the federal government to approve liquefied natural gas export projects, soon after the fires broke out. She immediately claimed this as proof that forest fire seasons are starting earlier every year, a human-caused disaster that could be eased by selling gas to China to replace coal.
Last year’s forest fire season started early, and the now-familiar claims were made that it would be the worst, the hottest, etc. It also ended early and was nowhere near the worst, a point mentioned by nobody except me.
This spring’s early warm spell up north petered out within days. Now the urban media can return to fretting about undetectable earthquakes in the region of the province with the lowest seismic risk, until fires spring up again.
Forests Minister Steve Thomson and the B.C. Wildfire Service are more circumspect. There’s no way to predict rainfall this summer, and thus no brave forecast about “another” bad forest fire season. Professional staff emphasize that these northeast fires don’t predict anything.
We’re coming off an El Nino winter that has been punctuated by claims of ever-rising temperatures. This cyclical warm Pacific Ocean current swings next to La Nina, a cooling trend, but you won’t hear much about that.
We’ve just seen Prime Minister Justin Trudeau join other national leaders, jetting to New York City to formally sign the meaningless greenhouse gas deal they agreed to in Paris last year. It compels them to keep on flying to meetings, and not much else. It defies parody.
Yes, the climate is changing, as it always has. Yes, we’re in a period of gradual warming, although the rise is nowhere near what the UN’s climate models predict.
According to the environment ministry’s 2015 Indicators of Climate Change report, B.C.’s average temperature has increased about 1.5 degrees from 1900 to 2013, slightly more in the north and less in the south. That’s one one hundredth of a degree per year.
The B.C. report ritually attributes this to human-generated carbon dioxide, the only factor the UN climate bureaucracy recognizes. And here lies a key problem for the global warming industry.
More than 90 per cent of the greenhouse effect in the Earth’s atmosphere is from water vapour. Antarctic ice core analysis shows that over 400,000 years, increasing carbon dioxide has lagged centuries behind temperature increase. This suggests that rising temperatures lead to increased CO2, not the other way around.
(Scientific American, working hard to debunk this, found a study that shows the CO2 lag is only 200 years, rather than 800 as others calculate. Still, it can’t be causing warming.)
Conventional climate wisdom is that B.C. will see more total rainfall as temperatures warm. This is a matter of significance to BC Hydro, which recently released its latest power supply and demand forecast.
I asked BC Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald at a recent briefing, what is the utility’s climate change factor in this forecast?
There isn’t one.
Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @tomfletcherbc