By Robyn Doolittle
It was one of the two days this year that the temperature pushed passed 11 C. A smartly-dressed woman of no more than 30 sat on the streetcar slurping a chilled coffee drink.
“You know, I know global warming is bad. I know our grandchildren are going to look back at us and think ‘what were they doing?,’ but I can’t help but enjoy the weather,” she confessed.
Her friend replied with a guilty nod of agreement. “I never thought much about it. But look,” she said gesturing outside. “Something is wrong.” Shortly after, the street car tumbled through Spadina Avenue, where hundreds of people were out enjoying the sunshine. Only a handful donned winter gear. Since Halloween, Environment Canada has recorded only 1.6 cm of snow. By mid-January, the Toronto average is supposed to be 50 cm.
December was five degrees warmer than average, and while winter’s balmy weather isn’t expected to last much longer, the mercury is typically soaring at 5.2 C —11 degrees above the January norm. “We’re not breaking daily records. You can look back in history and always find one day that’s warmer, but what’s remarkable is the persistence, the duration of this weather,” said senior climatologist David Phillips. “It’s not muscle shirt and halter top weather (but) it’s the middle of winter and you can’t build a skating rink.”
Just look at our campus. Students are sporting rain boots and umbrellas, not parkas and mittens. Lake Devo wasn’t much more than a puddle of muck by the end of last week.
And perhaps it’s physical reminders such as these that are finally waking Canadians — and subsequently politicians — up to the reality of our global situation.
Former environment minister Stéphane Dion led a green Liberal leadership campaign to victory this fall. And just last week, the Harper government shuffled Rona Ambrose from her environment post, in hopes that a new face will be able to convince voters they too care about global warming — an important priority considering a new poll suggests about two-thirds of Canadians don’t think the federal government is doing enough about climate change.
As there are currently no active Ryerson environmental clubs, many are taking the issue into their own hands. Ryerson student Catherine Dawson started an online Ryerson Environment Lovers group, which you can read more about on page 10. It’s also why local musician John Showman and a handful of his friends decided to start the Toronto Rally Against Climate Change, which plans to hold a demonstration at city hall March 10, in favour of Canada rejoining the Kyoto agreement.
“We’re trying to get people from all platforms involved, but ultimately students are going to be the people with jobs, and in 20 or 30 years, they’ll be running the country. We need them,” he said.
They’ve already formed partnerships in the NDP party, University of Toronto, York University, George Brown, OCAD and the Toronto music scene. You can visit their myspace page at myspace.comagainst_climate_change. “The most important thing for students to do is vote. If they want to come out and march with us that’s great, but the most important thing is to stay on top of what the political parties are saying and vote.”
So by all means, enjoy the sun. Revel in the salt-free sidewalks. Bask in the glory of chilled coffees in January. But stay informed, go vote, and try to save energy, otherwise tomorrow is going to bite us all in the ass.