Friday, April 24, 2009

Cold Blooded Old Times

Well, we have passed the Vernal Equinox by this point in time and many people are shivering through the Spring wondering when they can finally kiss Winter goodbye? As it happens, I love cold weather and am thriving this year. However, even I am not so keen on the cold to be able to appreciate the anticipated snow this weekend or predicted lows in the neighbourhood of -11 to as low as -17°C. It is 2°C tonight, but with the wind chill it is -2°C and expected to drop as low as -10°C. Balmy Vancouver in alleged British "California" is currently sitting at 8°C and expected to go as low as 3°C.
Despite the Canadian sterotypes "aboot" the cold snowy Great White North, these temperatures are odd and unseasonally low. Trees in the Lower mainland of BC are only now beginning to bud, I have been told. Fruit trees are later than usual in blossoming. Here in Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan River is now free of ice but I have a feeling that many of the farmers out here are wringing their hands with dread. As it happens we are in a period of decreased solar activity.
A brief accounting of what is happening with our local star can be read at The Guardian online. Sunpots, as I understand it, signify periods of more intense solar activity - meaning warmer temperatures on the average and (appropriately enough) brighter light from the Sun. Our Sun is ever-so dimmer than it was a few years ago and cooler. There has been some speculation that the world (and specifically the Northern Hemisphere) could see the return of another so-called Little Ice Age (or Maunder Minimum) that held our planet in a frosty grip from the 17th century until the mid 19th century.
Regardless of whether or not we could be seeing anything as extreme as the Little Ice Age, we are headed for some leaner and more stressfull times. I think many of us will have to rethink what kind of communities we live in and how we interact with our world.

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