EDITORIAL: Our hand in the weather

It seems summer has arrived. Too bad it took until almost the middle of August to get here. Not that we’re the only place enduring weird weather.

It seems summer has arrived. Too bad it took until almost the middle of August to get here. Not that we’re the only place enduring weird weather.

When we were lamenting the cool temperatures and cloudy skies of July, the rest of the continent was sweltering in record heat and withering humidity. Those kinds of conditions have become so commonplace, some cities, like Toronto, have instituted a system of extreme heat alerts that include a protocol to extend the hours of public pools, handing out water in parks, and visits by health officials to rooming houses and other residential premises to ensure residents aren’t suffering.

Meanwhile, much of Europe has been soggy and cooler than normal, after a hot, dry spring.

In Africa, Somalia is suffering its worst drought in 60 years. The entire Horn of Africa, which also comprises Ethiopia and Kenya, has received two to eight inches less rainfall this year than normal. That’s sparked a famine that has claimed the lives of more than 29,000 children under the age of five over the past three months.

Climatologists like to remind us that such extremes aren’t as wild and unusual as they seem. The La Nina and El Nino phenomena, in which the surface temperature of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean is warmer or cooler than normal, have been influencing the climate for more than 20,000 years.

Scientists say that it’s impossible to blame specific weather events like storms, droughts, heat waves and extreme cold on global warming caused by humans. But climate change, settlement of expanding populations into areas prone to extreme weather and our inaction to deal with that likelihood have a way of turning bad weather into a disaster.

So as much as we like to curse Mother Nature​ when the weather’s foul, we must also shoulder some of the blame.

– Black Press