Climate Reality with Al Gore

Ottawa temperatures in 2011

In August I traveled to San Francisco and attended a three day training session presented by Al Gore.

At the time of his movie An Inconvenient Truth for which he won both an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize, Mr. Gore had been asked during a TV talk show interview “what are you going to do for an encore?” He replied that he was planning to train a thousand people to become presenters of the slideshow that formed the basis of his movie. The August 2012 training brought the total of trainees to something like 5000, of which perhaps 400 have been Canadian. The overall effort now goes under the banner of The Climate Reality Project.

By attending the Climate Reality training I have obligated myself to give 10 or more talks over the coming year. Yesterday I gave the first of those talks to a leadership group at Ecology Ottawa. I’d love to hear from you if you want to know more or would like me to give a talk.

Much of the material provided by Mr. Gore and Climate Reality has a decidedly “US” flavour but I’ve worked to inject as much local content as I can, one example being the graph shown here. If you click to enlarge the image you’ll see the day-by-day temperature as reported by Environment Canada for Ottawa up until December 2011.

The reason I’ve included this is because Al Gore puts some emphasis on the fact that historically there have been as many days with temperatures above “normal” as there were days with temperatures below normal. This is what you’d expect since a temperature averaged from these “aboves” and “belows” is what defines “normal.” But with climate change this is no longer true. Over the past decade across the US twice as many days have been above normal as have been below normal; and in the last year this imbalance is growing.

The graph above brings that home.

What’s shown in the graph is that if you review Environment Canada’s data for Ottawa you’ll find that our daytime maximum temperatures reached or exceeded record high temperatures 10 times. In contrast, our night-time lows never reached record lows at all; a 10:0 ratio of hot over cold! This isn’t an exactly equivalent statistic to the US ratio but it demonstrates the same trend; namely that “normal” doesn’t apply any more.

A year of Montreal temperatures up to a week ago

For some reason the Ottawa weather station stopped recording temperature data in December 2011 so the graph can’t show more recent info. Other weather stations across Canada did not have this problem though, so I turned to Montreal since it has weather quite similar to Ottawa.

Even in the miniature image to the right here you can see the big spike of warmth that we had back in March. Expand the image and you’ll see that over just nine months the ratio has gone from 10:0 to 14:0.

If you want to see how I’ve created these graphs, click here for a step by step description of how you can do it yourself for any weather station in Canada.

In adapting the Climate Reality material to my own presentations I take a positive and constructive approach and I’ve added a lot about what you can do. I figure there isn’t much point in getting people all fired up if you can’t give them a means to actually make a difference.

I can be reached at 613-728-2016 or chas.hodgson@gmail.com

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