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Is it Climate Change Yet? Canada's weird weather gets weirder

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Issue: 33 Section: Canadian News Geography: Canada Topics: climate change

January 28, 2006

Is it Climate Change Yet? Canada's weird weather gets weirder

by Sara Homer

What's the 'melting point' for coverage on climate change? photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Temperatures are breaking record highs in Winnipeg and Alberta this month. Sundre, Alberta enjoyed a balmy 14 C on January 24. Environment Canada meteorologist Dale Marciski told the CBC, "it's pretty much assured that we're going to break the record for the warmest January ever in Winnipeg's history." The average temperature in Winnipeg in January has been –7.7 C, says Marciski, while the normal average is –17.8 C. Marciski denies the unusual weather is a product of climate change, saying the warmth is being carried by a low-pressure system moving from the Pacific coast, but noted that "the absence of real cold air across the north" has contributed to the unusually warm weather.

Dan Kulak, also an Environment Canada meteorologist, explained the lack of cold air to the Edmonton Journal: "Cold air forms in the Arctic, so maybe the reason for this is the fact that the Arctic sea ice was at a record minimum since we started monitoring it by satellite in the 1970s." Although he agrees that this is in line with climate change predictions, and doesn't dispute the fact that the earth is warming, Kulak was quoted as claiming that there are questions about whether the cause of this warming is related to human activity or natural cycles.

According to The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), released in 2004, Kulak's uncertainty is not widespread. The report states that "There is an international scientific consensus that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities." The report was the work of over 250 scientists and was funded by eight countries, including Canada.

According to James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 2005 was the warmest year on record. According to MSNBC, Hansen blames "a buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels," for the increase.

» MSNBC News
» MSNBC News
» Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Edmonton Journal
» Reuters

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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