Global warming tough sell in PEI these days

This year could go down as the worst for snow ever

Purchase Global warming tough sell in PEI these days

Troy Media Columnist Andy Walker
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CORNWALL, PEI, Mar 31, 2015/ Troy Media/ – My late father often regaled me with stories of living through “old-fashioned” winters.

He would always tell me about being marooned for days as roads were blocked solid with snow. Both of his uncles had jobs with Canadian National Railways, helping to shovel the tracks when they were plugged with snow. Sometimes it could take days, or even weeks, to get from his hometown of Georgetown to Charlottetown. By car, on a good road, it now takes about 45 minutes.

Global warming conundrum

Just like most parents who want their kids to know they had it tougher, he always maintained things would never be that bad again. Unfortunately, he was wrong. There is no question snow is easier to move now than it was during his youth, but that is a function of technology rather than climate.

I am 58 and five of the six snowiest winters since weather data has been collected in Canada’s smallest province have occurred in my lifetime. As I write this, the winter of 2014-2015 is in third place. The measurement is taken from the first snowfall – usually in November although there have been some occasions when it happens in October – until the last flakes happen. That is almost always after it has officially turned to spring on the calendar.

global warming
What global warming?

Since the 515 centimetres is only about 10 centimetres off the second place year of 1881-82, and 24 centimetres off the all time record set in 1971-1972, this year could go down as the worst ever. Before the winter started, many Islanders were hoping for a break after the winter of 2013-2014 – we thought at the time it was really bad it but right now it is number six on the snow hit parade at 444 centimetres.

Just like many Islanders who find themselves buying new shovels and snowblowers as the winter went on, the provincial government was forced mid-season to purchase new snow removal equipment. The province even borrow some equipment from New Brunswick at one point, although our sister province made it clear it needed them back at the first sign of any new snowfall.

Last year’s snow removal bill was $10 million over budget. The financial tally is not in yet for this time around, but the red ink is sure to be worse. Already, the provincial government has given a total of over $2 million to the two largest municipalities so they could pay their snow removal bills without raising taxes. Since a provincial election is expected any day, talk of increased taxes (no matter at what level of government) is a non-starter.

With two consecutive winters in the top six snowiest in history, many Islanders are starting to wonder whether they are starting to see the impact of climate change first hand. John Jamieson admits it is a question he has heard often over the last few months.

He is the executive director of the PEI Federation of Agriculture and his group is currently in the process of documenting damage to farm buildings due to snow load. Its sister organization in Nova Scotia recently completed a similar study and has pegged the damage to agricultural buildings in that province at $3 million. Jamieson doesn’t see the Island total reaching that amount, however.

The agricultural group is hoping to make a claim under a federal/provincial program called Agri-Recovery, which is designed to help farmers recover from natural disasters. However, it treats such claims as one-time events, meaning another tough winter would mean that avenue of compensation will be closed.

“There is no question the long term impact of climate change is the elephant in the room,” Jamieson said.

Alarmists adamant global warming just around the corner

For Adam Fenech, climate change is his job. He runs the climate laboratory at the province’s only university and they are now putting together a team of volunteers to compile a “climate diary” that will detail not only the weather over the next 25 years, but its impact on plant and animal life.”

While Dr. Fenech is adamant climate change will result in increased temperatures and a more temperate climate over the long haul, his argument has been a really tough sell over the last few months.

A life-long resident of Prince Edward Island, Troy Media Syndicated Columnist Andy Walker has been a writer and commentator for over 30 years.

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