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A Bit of Burgos by Dale Burgos

Whether weather matters

by Dale Burgos

    Alienor Rougeot
  Toronto climate change activist Alienor Rougeot calling upon the public, with the youth, to take action in one of Fridays for Future's earlier climate strikes, March 2019 – Wikipedia photo

Wow, this winter was a doozy! As I write this article, I am hearing that Southern Manitoba was hit with more snow and cold weather! Granted, I don’t live there anymore and am not experiencing it firsthand, but c’mon Mother Nature, enough is enough!

I get my weather reports from a reliable source, my mom! She tells me what the day is shaping up to be and I tell ya, it doesn’t matter what the temp is, if she isn’t going outside, then I know it is cold because nothing can stop Mama Burgos from going to daily or weekly mass, unless it is a pandemic or wintery weather.

It’s been just over seven years since I moved away from the only home I had known. I was born and raised in Winnipeg, but a new job came calling and we made our way out to Vancouver Island on the West Coast. While our winters are nothing compared to yours, with mild with temps hovering in the low single digits, we do get our fair share of precipitation in the form of rain. We also got a dumping of snow, which was a lot more than they are used to over here. That was in December and January – but that melted away quickly.

I’m constantly seeing posts from friends and family still living there and I can definitely sense the frustration in their Facebook posts. My cousin, Julian, doesn’t sugar coat it and usually drops more choice four-letter words. And no, I don’t mean “snow.” Now, after some rain, it looks like there is flooding out there!

In my 40 plus years on Earth, I’ve seen blizzards, tornadoes, monsoon rain, floods and hail the size of golf balls. Sure, it isn’t uncommon to see that, but when you start to see it more often and in places you wouldn’t see it normally, well, that is cause for concern.

Something quite rare for the West Coast is hail. That’s why it is OK to have sky light windows installed here. But lightning and the following thunder, that is not so common. Manitobans, unfortunately, are used to flooding. I still remember sandbagging homes in St. Norbert in 1997. That type of flood was to be once every hundred years. Now it seems to happen on the regular.

It has been reported that the overall temperature may raise one a half degrees by 2050. If that happens, scientists project that the Arctic Ocean will become ice-free. The devastation this would cause would be unfathomable. That is, unless we do something about it.

So, does weather matter? Sure, it does. It is nature’s way of telling us to smarten up. In my school district, I sit on the Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Committee. One of our main goals is to reduce the district’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 4.5 per cent each year. That is a lofty goal that not all school districts are focusing on. Thankfully, I work for a school board whose priority is addressing climate change as much as it is to focus on student learning.

As part of my role on the committee, I meet regularly with students from all our high schools. I’ve had the pleasure to discuss their priorities to ensure we meet our goals at their school and in the entire district. These are a passionate bunch of kids and they will make great climate leaders one day.

The City of Nanaimo, like many other municipalities, has already banned the use of plastic bags in stores. This endeavour was supported by our students. At the schools, they are looking at utilizing renewable energy such as wind turbines or solar panels. Not related to climate change, but just as important, our students are focusing on the elimination all single use plastics, getting rid of the vending machines (which usually don’t offer anything of nutritional value) and plastic cutlery, for starters.

Students across Canada and the world are taking notice. On Earth Day, April 22, students in Whitehorse protested their government’s inaction against climate change. This was but one example of the many protests that took place. Do you recall the massive worldwide protests led by young people back in September 2019? Just like the changing climate, I hope we will start seeing changing attitudes towards global warming – and our youth will lead the way.

So yeah, weather does matter.

Dale manages the communications department for a school district in B.C.

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