I have a layer of thick, solid ice on my front and back lawn. Maybe there’s a bit of snow mixed in. It looks like January 15thoutside my house. And today is April 20th. I live in Canada, where we expect some snow throughout the month of April, in most parts of the country. Anyone who takes their snow tires off on April 1 always lives to regret it. But the ice and snow usually melts quickly in April as the weather warms. But not this year. And I’m not surprised. Why? Climate change.
I don’t like to use the buzz word, global warming. I am not a scientist, an environmentalist or really any kind of expert. Basically I am just a weather watcher and would consider myself to be a relatively intelligent person. I don’t question that our planet is slowly warming, that each year, the world’s average temperature is going up. But what we see, every day, in a different part of the globe, is climate change.
Earth Day is coming up this weekend, on April 22. It’s the one day of the year when it’s not just okay, but we are encouraged to hug a tree. And for those of us living in parts of Ontario and Quebec, with our lawns, streets and sidewalks still covered in ice, the timing is very poignant.
My husband, David, who by the way happens to be trained as a Professional Environmental Engineer and has real, extensive knowledge of the subject matter, explained to me this week what is happening around the world and why there is a layer of ice on our lawn. He specifically referred to climate change.
We are seeing extreme weather, with a massive cold snap complete with sleet, freezing rain and snow, followed by warm, sometimes hot weather. And that can happen in Toronto in February, November, or April.
Last spring Toronto saw record rainfall, with so much flooding across the city that access to the much-loved Toronto Islands was closed for months. We could count the number of hot days in the summer on one hand. I do recall that September and October were nice and warm. Our climate is changing. It’s erratic.
And when I say our climate, I really should say our planet’s climate. Our global village. What happens in one place affects another, and when one community abuses the environment, the effects can be felt thousands of kilometers away. I don’t think we can blame one group of people, one country or political regime for climate change. This didn’t happen overnight. We have been abusive for years, and while climate change was slow for a long time, I believe it is quickening now.
Freak storms used to be just that – freak. Rare. Out of the ordinary. We were shocked to hear there was flooding in southern China, wildfires in central Australia or a long draught in Texas, in the United States. Over the last few years that has become commonplace. There is always a swollen river, causing a flood in some community. A new wildfire breaks out in some part of the world almost weekly. There are so many places in all corners of the world in a state of draught, with little to no water.
Have we become used to climate change? Have we become so disaffected by news of another ice storm, flood or draught that we barely take notice? I sure hope not. If we don’t speak out, if each and every one of us doesn’t try, even a little bit, to be better environmental citizens of the world, we are doomed to see even more extreme weather.
On Sunday, April 22, during the event’s 48thanniversary (year one was 1970) of Earth Day, go hug a tree. Or better yet, go plant a tree. Or pick up some trash you see on the side of the road. Maybe lower the heat in your house a bit or turn off some lights. This year’s theme is End Plastic Pollution, so maybe you want to check your recycling bin and make sure the right plastics are in there. Or stop using bottled water and invest in a reusable cup or bottle.
There are so many ways that all of us, as individuals, can make a difference and do our best to slow down climate change. Let’s all try to do our part. Maybe next year, on April 20th, 2019, I can be in my backyard, in a t-shirt raking leaves and getting my garden ready for spring like I used to do.