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EDITORIAL: Shape of things to come

The weather is often a topic of conversation in Nova Scotia and elsewhere. Considering the favourable days weve been experiencing over the past several weeks, its the first thing mentioned for lots of folks.

But that inevitably leads to thinking about what it means in the long term. And thats not just the old observation that, boy, were really going to pay for this. People in growing numbers also have the concept of climate change in the backs of their minds.

Here we are, a day into November. A lot of grownups will think back to their Halloween nights, when a brilliant costume was somewhat spoiled by the winter coat they needed going door to door. That sort of weather hasnt quite been the case for many of the evenings of the past week.

On the list of things to do, any homeowners thinking about cleaning up the lawn mower and putting it away for the season are likely wondering whether they had better wait a week or so – one more clipping might be in store.

The thing is, when it comes to whether Nova Scotians – Canadians in general – are alarmed about the prospect of a changing climate, these past several weeks of temperatures more in line with end-of-summer are pretty easy to take. We know winters coming; well take all we can get of balmy days in the fall.

In general, concerns about climate change are taking hold with a greater portion of the population. The argument in latter years was not so much about whether its happening, and more about how much human activity is driving it; also, whether changes in that activity can keep the outlook from getting worse.

Granted, a couple of summer-like days in October are not outside the realm of what might have been experienced many decades ago. A couple of quite warm weeks in mid-fall are, however, quite unusual.

Likewise the relative severity – or lack thereof – during a single winter is little indication. When we have a cold, mercilessly snowy winter, how many people shrug and say, so much for global warming? Or vice-versa – a mild winter is welcome to many, but cant be pegged as a certain indicator.

A general pattern, however, of rising temperatures over the years is measurable, and a prognosticator of what the planet is facing.

People and governments need to get on board, and take these challenges seriously. Lowering greenhouse gas emissions isnt the only course of action. Building standards and locations for construction also need attention.

Forget a mild October for a moment. Maybe a particularly wicked hurricane season will help convince people. Perhaps it will take continuing patterns of extended drought, extended rainy seasons and flooding, cold snaps in traditionally warm locations – all this driving up the price of food. Somehow people need to know were all in this together and everyone needs to take responsibility.

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