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Summer 2012

2012/10/09

I would not be exaggerating if I said that this past month has been the busiest in my life.  And among the most stressful.  So you will (I hope) forgive me for not having posted since September 9th.

It all started with a new teaching position.  I decided to change schools (very difficult decision) because it would put me closer to my university (where I am working on my Masters) and would allow my wife and I to carpool (and reduce my carbon footprint!  Woohoo!)  Unfortunately, getting my foot in the door required teaching many courses I had never taught.  And that means a whole lot more prep than I’ve had in years.  Plus my classes count 31 and 25 students each which more correcting than I’ve ever done.

I am taking a course, for my Masters degree, titled “Political Ecology”.  The professor giving the course has made her way to Prince Edward Island from Tasmania!  And so, in order to keep her here as short a time as possible, we have compressed the course so that we have two evening classes per week rather than the usual one.  And they are Wednesday evenings and Friday evenings.  Yuck!  Having said that, the course is very interesting.

Finally, I had another climate change presentation on September 25th.  And although this was my fifth time giving the presentation, I had to update and improve it, not to mention practice more than a few times – I hate making a fool out of myself in public… more than I have too 🙂

So here I am.  I’m still very busy, but having caught a nasty cold, I’m home sick today.  And rather than work an oral presentation for my Masters course, I decided to reconnect with any of you who may be still interested in my little blog.  And hopefully, I’ll also have the time to go and visit all of your respective blogs shortly.

Now, what to write about.  I have quite the backlog of stories I was hoping to share with you.  From ocean acidification, to positive studies regarding the potential for wind power to Sweden’s need to import trash, there is a lot to talk about.  And although these are all interesting stories (which you can read about by clicking on the link), I feel that talking about the summer that has just come and gone is more important.

Here in PEI, the summer was very warm and very dry (somewhere around 50% less rain than normal).  This has made farmer’s lives rather difficult (along with the unusually wet fall that is making harvest challenging to say the least).  However, the US and the rest of the world have had it much worse than PEI.  Here is a look at some the headline numbers from summer 2012, courtesy of Climate Progress (click on the link for the full story):

United States

  • July 2012 was the hottest month in U.S. history
  • June-August 2012 was the 3rd hottest on record for the continental US.
  • January-August is warmest such period in U.S. history putting 2012 on track to being the warmest year in U.S. history.
  • More than two-thirds of the U.S. experienced drought throughout the summer of 2012, much of it classified as “severe to extreme”.
  • January-August 2012 broke the “year-to-date” record for most acreage burned by wildfires at 6,888,342 acres.

Around the world

  • August 2012 was the 330th consecutive month that the global temperature was above the 20th century average.
  • The last time the world saw a cooler-than-average July was in 1976.  That’s three years before my birth!
  • Summer 2012 was the 3rd hottest summer on record globally and land temperatures were the hottest on record.
  • In September, Arctic sea ice reached its lowest level since satellite monitory began 30 years ago.

And finally, here is a funny-yet-scary video that not only summarizes this blog post rather nicely, but also gives you an idea of what goes on in my head every time I hear someone on the radio or TV talk about how “gloriously warm and dry” our summer has been…

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. 2012/10/09 5:14 pm

    Yikes – hope you feel better soon, J. – good luck in your new school (as a teacher myself I have some understanding of the huge amount of work taking on a new course load is).
    Thanks for all you’re doing to make this world a better, more sustainable one – you’re amazing!
    (and I know how you feel about those stupid comments re “isn’t it wonderful, it’s so warm outside”!)

    • 2012/10/10 3:13 pm

      Thanks Christine. Although I’m at three days of uselessness! I hate being sick. Luckily, in my “old age”, I’m learning to actually take the time to rest. Wasn’t so a few years ago.

      How was the CCL meeting on Saturday? Did Dr Hansen show?

      • 2012/10/11 12:28 pm

        Yes, Dr Hansen spoke and then responded to questions for the first half hour of the hour-long call. Here’s the link, fyi:
        [audio src="http://citizensclimatelobby.org/calls/CCL-October-2012.mp3" /]

        Also, you should know that you have inspired me to send out “asks” to the community groups in my area, re: putting myself forward to come and speak about climate change. What groups did you notify? I’m thinking of starting with our municipal town council.

      • 2012/10/11 8:51 pm

        Thanks for the link. I’ll take a listen this weekend.
        I’m glad I’ve “rubbed-off” on you. I hope your presentations go well. I hadn’t really looked for groups to talk to… more for places to do my talks. I like your idea though. I’m gonna steal it 🙂

  2. 2012/10/09 10:53 pm

    Welcome back, JP! I totally understand life getting in the way of blogging, especially when you’re working and studying and making big life changes!

    Also, your teacher is from Tassie? Awesome! It’s a truly beautiful part of Australia – I’d love to live there, but it really is quite isolated in its own way.

    Anyway, looking forward to reading more from you 🙂

    • 2012/10/10 3:11 pm

      Good to be back! I thought you’d understand my situation – I remember reading on your blog that you’ve gone through some rather busy times yourself 🙂

      Yeah a professor from “Van Diemen’s Land”! Her name is CA Cranston. I love being being in conversations with people from other parts of the world. I opens you up to wonderful ideas and stories. And although you can to see how different other nations are, some things are quite similar. Being a course on political ecology, we’ve talked about the politics of environmental issues and it’s sad to see how political corruption seem the same no matter where you go. Having said that, I think I’m in love with the tasmanian devil (the real animal, not the cartoon)!

  3. 2012/10/09 11:15 pm

    Hi JP,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on extreme weather events with us.
    Yesterday, one of our weather forecasts predicted an extremely cold winter because of the “missing” greenland ice. The weatherman stated that it is very likely that the high pressure area above the Azores and the low pressure area which is “normally” located in the very North might swap places this year which would lead to very extreme winter weather in middle Europe.
    This is only a scenario – and perhaps it won’t become true, but I was really upset that the presentation was so easy-going and uncommented.
    BTW, on Sunday, one of the biggest German newspapers published a three page article on climate change. In this article it was stated that even if the world came to an agreement and reduced the green house gas emissions quickly and significantly, it would be very unlikely that we would keep within the 2 degree goal.
    Like you I have been very busy in the last few weeks and months, but I hope to write more about what is going on in my head very soon.
    Looking forward to read more from you & get well soon!!!
    silke

    • 2012/10/10 3:04 pm

      Thank you for the well-wishes!

      And good luck with your winter 😦 I’ve read about how the lose of Arctic ice will affect weather patterns and it is rather scary. And you just know that people who don’t believe climate change will use these extreme events as proof that the world isn’t warming. Urg!

      As for the 2 degree goal, I’ve heard similar (bad) news from other sources. Although I’m quite impressed that your papers would talk about the issue in such an honest way. We can’t even get the media to admit that it’s a concern over here in Canada. And while it is more than a little discouraging that the 2 degree window seems to be closing, we have to keep pushing for action because 2.5 degrees would be horrible, but it would be better than 3 or 4 or 5 degrees!

      “Talk” to you soon.

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