Michaels: Contemplating the ‘new normal’

This warmer, smokier planet is making for a real bummer summer

When it comes to grey skies, Okanaganites aren’t wusses.

We spend the vast majority of winter snug under a blanket of mist that wipes out all traces of light from the skies above.

Some head to the mountains for a blue-sky reprieve. But for those of us who don’t find joy in snow the only choice is to grin and bear it, keeping in mind it isn’t really too oppressive a payment when the valley’s glorious summers are taken into consideration.

Hot days punctuated by lake dips and lackadaisical beach visits mean everything.

The food and wine is great. The outdoor experience is unparalleled. That is the lure of Okanagan life.

Or that used to be the case.

In recent years we’ve come to expect dark clouds of smoke rolling into the valley, choking out all signs of sun and filling mouths with the taste of ash. The remnants of forests have to be wiped from one’s face every night, lest they leave an imprint on pillow cases.

It’s wretched. The sky simply shouldn’t taste like a bad barbecue. The sight of sun shouldn’t be a novelty. The mountains, be they ever-so-brown should be seen in their full glory, not hidden under a veil of soot.

It’s enough to test the most murk-resilient woman’s will to stay put.

A lot of that decision is hinged on the idea that next year won’t be the same, but these conditions are increasingly being referred to as the deceivingly banal sounding “new normal.”

If scientists are to be trusted, these smoky days may be just the tip of the melting iceberg.

Global warming helped fuel the hottest year on record in 2016, with greenhouse gas concentrations reaching a new high, according to a report released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Bloomberg is reporting the document that was prepared by almost 500 scientists from around the world, indicates there were more major tropical cyclones than usual, longer droughts and less snow cover.

I’m no climate scientist, but I think this might mean there we will more sooty skies ahead for our valley.

So what now? If the die is cast, and we’re on an increasingly warming planet, how do we adapt? What can we do to ensure that the lives we’ve all built in this valley are still tolerable?

South of the border the conversation is still around whether or not there is a thing called global warming, but up here our governments have taken a different tack.

They acknowledge change is afoot, so now I’d like to start hearing more about how that will play out in their policy making.

And I want to hear it soon. This “new normal” isn’t keeping me in vitamin D, and I’m getting more cranky as the days wear on.

I’d rather look to the future with some hope than stare at the skies above like Chicken Little and wonder what’s next.

Just Posted

Holiday bears off to new homes

Annual Morning Star December giveaway draws crowd on cold Saturday morning

Outbreak at Okanagan hospital

Gastrointestinal illness reported at Vernon Jubilee Hospital

Meet two of BC’s tiniest service pups

Medical therapy dogs changed Princeton woman’s life

The Okanagan may not get snow for Christmas

You may not want to bet on having a White Christmas

Legion bell prank hits sour note

Anger erupts after Summerland Legion member removes bell from Peachland Legion

Me Too At Work: Sexual assault and harassment in the B.C. workplace

Introducing an in-depth look at who is affected and what can be done

‘Assemble your own meal’ kits grow into $120M industry in Canada

Kits offer a middle ground between eating out and grocery shopping

Millennials closing in as B.C.’s biggest wine drinkers

Generation X leads the way in current consumption of B.C. wine, as more wine drinkers are enjoying local varietals

Canadians lag behind Americans in giving to charity

Only one-in-five Canadians donated to charities in 2017

B.C. children adoption rates lagging, despite increased funding: watchdog

More than 1,000 children children are still waiting to be adopted, new report shows

Hurdles ahead for Sicamous off-road vehicle bylaw

RCMP, ICBC and province not yet on-board with district

FortisBC to lower natural gas rates in 2018

Rate changes to impact the Lower Mainland, Kootenays, Interior and Vancouver Island

Visit with Santa amidst the Big White snow

Snow lovers can head up to Big White this month to visit with Santa

Four-month-old baby girl critically injured in Toronto

Baby, a man and a woman in serious condition

Most Read