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GEORGE: Warm summer nights

July 28, 2018 - 12:30 PM

 


OPINION


I remember when I was twelve sitting outside on lawn chairs on a warm summer night in Avola, the small town I grew up in. My friends and I were waiting for the stars and had finagled permission to stay up late enough to make that happen. I remember this night clearly as it was my first chance to look through an actual astronomical telescope that one of my friends had gotten for his birthday. This was the first time he had had it out and it was amazing. I remember how warm it was, how clear the sky and blazing the stars were when the light of the sun finally bled from the sky.

The warm summer nights of childhood have a special place in my memories. Time spent with family and friends in backyards and ball fields, and lots of experiences that are twined tightly with the heat fading heat of the long Kamloops summer days. Teenage nights in August spent drinking beer around the bonfire while trying to catch the eye of that cute girl that didn't go to your school. Warm summer nights were what I waited for all year. The memories made in those places and those people all swim in the warm air.

As a young adult, those warm summer nights morphed into opportunities to serve people hot food and cold drinks on the patio at the restaurant I was pouring my life into. The heat kept the patio packed later as people were able to sit comfortably outside. Warm summer nights became opportunities, to convert hard work into profit for myself and my partners and more hours for my staff. I came to look forward to those nights.

We appear to have a string of warm summer nights ahead of us across the province. The weekend coming up is forecast to see several nights of seventeen and eighteen degrees along with the daytime highs in the mid-thirties. Something that I have noticed over the past couple of years is how much warmer the nights have become. The next two weeks should see five or six degrees above normal for night time temperatures, even as the above normal daytime temperatures fluctuate between eight degrees hotter and two degrees cooler than normal. Turns out there is a good reason for this, one that is tied to climate change

Warm summer nights have an impact on the things growing in my garden. The melons, squash, and tomatoes are happy. The radishes, lettuce, and basil are not. Luckily there were enough cool nights in June and July for us to enjoy them while they were in season. I noticed today that the dew just isn't what it was even a week or so ago. I imagine it will get even sparser as the week progresses. Good news for mowing the lawn, bad news for fire conditions.

As I watch the weather reports roll in from around the world it is hard to keep the romanticizing of warm summer nights and my fond memories of them alive. Last week it rained in Japan, killing seventy-six or more people and placing almost five million people under evacuation orders or alerts.  This week (and likely for the rest of the month) it is raining on the eastern seaboard causing flash flooding. One of the downsides of a warmer atmosphere is that it allows more moisture into the air. And that makes rain more intense.

Mix this in with some of the highest temperatures ever recorded on earth in the middle east and record temperatures in Northern Siberia along the coastline of the Arctic Ocean of over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Siberia is another area of our warming planet that is subsceptible to forest fire and the recent heat has it burning. It is easy to see that warm summer nights just aren't what they used to be.

I am going to do my best to stay up past nine o'clock this week to enjoy these warm summer nights. There are memories to make, for sure. My fear is that these warm summer nights and the hot summer days that surround them will lead to more violent fire behaviour in our neck of the woods. I am glad that we managed to avoid the flooding this year but the fire season has really only just begun. Just ask people in Greece

— Chris George believes one measure of a just society is found in how well it balances fiscally conservative economics with social responsibility and environmental soundness in all of its living arrangements.


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