Sierra Club Blog Posts
By John Bennett
Last week we stepped in it. Rather big. We ran an appreciation promotion after a long-time supporter who operates an outdoor equipment store donated a very expensive made-in-Canada jacket. We were thrilled that we’d be able to give it away to a supporter – a way of saying thank you.
Sierra Club Canada is a not an animal rights organization; we take no position on hunting and trapping. We are a conservation organization and, for strategic reasons, we must work with a broad range of organizations. Sometimes we even work with hunters -- including Canada’s Aboriginal peoples -- in order to achieve our goal of protecting the environment.... Read more »
By Paul Beckwith (with input from Matthew Ladd)
A few days ago in Ottawa, the temperature reached 21oC. The old record was 18oC and the average high for this time of year is 5oC. This is not a local Ottawa effect or a one-shot anomaly. Weather records that have stood the test of time for over 100 years are dropping like flies everywhere. What is causing this?
Canada’s main meteorological office generates its weather forecasts by running complex analogical weather prediction models (commonly referred to as the “analog method”). In the analog method the existing state of the atmosphere in a particular region is determined, and then compared against a massive database of atmospheric states for the same time and region in previous years. The closest matches of the atmospheric states are identified, and the forecast is basically obtained by examining how those prior systems evolved over time.... Read more »
Melting Arctic sea ice aims Frankenstorm Sandy directly at the Big Apple
By Paul Beckwith
Frankenstorm Sandy is a scary beast. A hybridization between a tropical hurricane and a mid-latitude cyclone, her behavior is not natural at all. Moving northward off the east coast, Sandy is turning left toward land instead of right toward the sea. Sandy’s being blocked from moving north by a high pressure area of enormous magnitude, and being sucked west by a low pressure region of very exceptional (and highly unusual) strength. Thus the designation “Frankenstorm”.... Read more »
By Paul Beckwith
Push something and it moves a little. Push it a little more and it moves a little more. This is called a “linearity” response. But sometimes a little push can lead to something totally unexpected! This is called “nonlinearity” and, contrary to what one might think, nonlinearities are inherent in most systems - like our atmosphere, for example. In fact, abrupt and unexpected change happens at some point in most systems - we even have a saying for such unexpected outcomes: a tipping point.
Until recently, our atmosphere and oceans behaved like linear systems: incremental dumping of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere caused incremental changes, like rising temperatures and predictable rates of ice melt. But things are now changing unexpectedly fast – nonlinearity is kicking in! We only have to look at the rapidly vanishing arctic icecap for astonishing evidence.... Read more »
September 26, 2012... Read more »
The climate change issue reached new heights in Canadian public dialogue this week. It wasn’t because of the unprecedented melting of Arctic sea ice this summer, the phony-baloney announcement about Canada’s ‘progress’ toward meeting its greenhouse gas targets, or government’s caving on real regulations for coal plants. Nope, it wasn’t because of any of these worrisome situations.... Read more »
By Paul Beckwith
About 5 million years ago continental drift pushed North and South America together, creating the Isthmus of Panama where the Central American Seaway ocean passage had previously existed. The Pacific and Atlantic were no longer connected, drastically altering global ocean currents and atmospheric circulation patterns. As the Atlantic Gulf Stream strengthened, it carried vast amounts of moisture into the northern regions. The Arctic eventually cooled and it’s estimated sea ice cover has existed continuously in the Arctic Ocean for 3 million years, possibly for as long as 13 million years.... Read more »