B.C. legislative session resumes as atmospheric river heads our way

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      This weekend, one of the most-read articles on the Georgia Straight website was about something rarely mentioned in the mainstream media.

      It focused on abrupt climate change and University of Arizona professor emeritus Guy McPherson's claim that human beings could go extinct within a decade.

      For many readers, the notion that people will all die by mid-2026, as McPherson predicts, is total lunacy.

      Yet there's plenty of evidence that hundreds of millions will perish by the end of the century because of all the greenhouse gases being spewed into the atmosphere.

      It's not completely out of the question that feedback loops could intensify, resulting in massive emissions of methane. That could cause sudden and dramatic changes to the climate.

      Meanwhile over the next 48 hours, the south coast of B.C., including the legislative precinct in Victoria, is going to be pounded with heavy rain.

      Up to 100 millimetres will fall in the Lower Mainland.

      These events are caused by "atmospheric rivers", which have been linked to climate change.

      Alberta water expert Robert Sandford explained the concept in his 2015 book Storm Warning: Water and Climate Security in a Changing World (RMB Books).

      He pointed out that as the atmosphere warms, it carries more water vapour, which leads to more intense storms.

      According to Sandford, "the warmer the air, the more water they bring."

      These atmospheric rivers can carry "the equivalent of 10 times the daily discharge of the St. Lawrence River".

      Storm Warning also explained why hydrological cycles are changing. Powerful storms generate their energy "from the temperature gradient between the poles and the tropics", which is also in flux.

      This winter the south coast of B.C. experienced some odd weather, with the daily snowfall record being shattered at Vancouver International Airport. There have also been intense winter storms in many other areas of North America, most recently in Nova Scotia, as well as in Europe.

      Is this too a sign that something is going wonky with the climate?

      Today, the B.C. legislative session begins in Victoria.

      Political journalists are focusing a great deal of attention on how this will connect to the provincial election, which will take place on May 9.

      But if they look up at the skies this evening, perhaps they'll also think about connections between what's happening in Canadian politics and the future of humanity.

      It's something we all need to pay more attention to, even if it turns out that Guy McPherson is off by a few decades with his prediction.

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