Heat and fire in the north

As I sit on my couch contemplating what to write in my gently roasting living room, the temperature has reached a balmy 40 degrees Celsius with humidity. With the sweat leaking from my forehead, despite the fans blowing in my direction, I had a thought: when there is nothing else to say, talk about the weather.

As the summer of 2010 slowly comes to an end, I find it hard to remember a warmer summer than the one we’ve experienced this season. After the last couple of days of record breaking temperatures I’m about ready to welcome winter with open arms. Judging by all the heat waves and wildfires we’ve seen this summer in Quebec, Russia, Bolivia and elsewhere, I’d say the rest of the world is ready to welcome winter as well.

I’m not about to chalk up a couple of heat waves to global warming, just as I wouldn’t try to deny global warming because of a snow storm in February, but I get the feeling that the Earth has a fever. In fact, if the earth was a human head its forehead would be sweating profusely as much as mine.

The two largest countries in the world are both situated in the uppermost part of the northern hemisphere and both have experienced their warmest seasons on record this year.

Mind if I smoke? The Big O drenched in smoke from Quebec wildfires in late May

Canada came off its warmest and driest winter in its history with an average temperature 4 degrees Celsius above normal. The warm dry weather continued into the late spring causing over fifty different forest fires in Quebec, some of which are still burning. Fires also affected B.C. and Alberta in July and August. About 290,000 hectares of forest were burned in British Columbia by August 23rd, about three times more than the average.

In Russia, the hottest summer in their history (an average temperature 5 degrees Celsius above normal) has led to a direr situation. Starting in late July, twenty-eight regions were under a state of emergency due to crop failures caused by drought and seven regions because of wildfires. At one point in early August there were more than eight hundred fires burning at a time, many of them around Moscow. During that same time period an average of seven hundred people were dying everyday from smoke and heat.

A Russian man stands near one of hundreds of forest fires

I’m no scientist; I can’t tell you that this is a definitive sign of global warming, but when two large countries that contain a majority of the North Pole have simultaneous record breaking hot streaks such as these; I have to wonder.

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