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Spotting trend toward climate change

The deniers are saying: “How can global warming be happening, when we’re having one of the worst winters in memory?”

The doomsayers recite: “This wild weather is proof positive that climate change is happening.”

Both are wrong, says our climate change guru.

However, he sees some evidence that our old weather patterns are gone.

Following in the footsteps of Al Gore, U.S. politician and producer of the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” UCFV physicist Tim Cooper has made informing the public about climate change a personal mission. In November he offered a presentation at the local college campus explaining how carbon dioxide is causing the planet to warm, and promoting his preferred solution in a nationwide tax on carbon. He gave the same talk to 600 high school students at Sardis secondary in December.

With the Lower Mainland having been hammered by winter storms through December and January, causing power outage, flooding and other mayhem, it would seem to some locals that the predictions Cooper popularizes are coming to pass. The picture of global warming that most scientists paint has exactly this sort of unsettled weather.

“We will get more storms, and they will be more severe storms,” said Cooper.

So what does he make of the severe flooding in his hometown of Chilliwack, or the massive wind damage in Stanley Park?

“That’s not proof of global warming at all, it may have happened anyway,” said Cooper. “But it is suggestive of a trend.”

“It’s consistent with global warming, but it’s not proof.”

If he is looking for trends, consistencies and suggestions of global warming, then how do this month’s snow and freezing temperatures fit into the picture?

“It’s not consistent (with global warming), but it’s not inconsistent either,” said Cooper.

He said if climate change is happening, then weather patterns should be chaotic.

“It (global warming) changes the probabilities of having warm and cold weather,” he said.

Cooper added that scientists look at average temperatures around the planet, in saying that the globe appears to be warming.

If any Fraser Valley residents become global warming converts because of the past season, they will have lots of company. Cooper notes that televangelist Pat Robertson famously switched his viewpoint on the topic on nationwide television last summer.

“They are making a convert out of me with these blistering summers,” said Robertson. “It is getting hotter, and the ice caps are melting, and there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the air. We really need to do something on fossil fuels.”

Rather than correct his mistaken assumptions that recent hot summers in America were proof of global warming, Cooper said climatologists were tight lipped, glad to have such an influential ally.

“You would expect to see changes in overall weather patterns, but one year does not make a pattern,” said Cooper.

Still, with a growing desire in the scientific community to have the public change its behaviour to be more sensitive to the environment, Cooper doesn’t care how people arrive at the same conclusion he reached long ago.

Cooper will be speaking at Kwantlen College on March 13, and to Chilliwack service clubs in April.

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