“Isn’t the weather beautiful? I can’t believe it’s not raining. It’s like, who did this?”
This is a sentiment I kept hearing on campus these past weeks.
And the answer is, no, the weather is not nice. It’s a level 5 drought. That is the highest level. 5/5. This is only the second time we have hit level 5 in BC. The first time was last year during the heat dome which killed hundreds of people and decimated sea-life. According to The Canadian Press, Vancouver sees around 165 millimetres of rain between July and mid-October. This year it has rained 16 millimetres.
Las Vegas got more rain than Vancouver this summer. Wildfires rage in late October, and as the drought stretches into salmon spawning season, streams are running dry, with one particularly horrific video from Heiltsuk territory showing a dry stream bed littered with dead salmon.
This is Neekas, Heiltsuk Territory. All of these salmon went into the creek, the creek dried up b/c of no rain so far this fall, and just died, and this is just one reach! Global warming is killing everything. This is such a sad scene. Video credit, Sarah Mund pic.twitter.com/vYhEKwD5mN— William Housty (@WilliamHousty) October 4, 2022
No, the weather is not nice: the smoke that billows off Cypress mountain to obscure the mountains, the heat in the fall, the smell of the dry and burning rainforest. Welcome to the anthropocene. The climate crisis.
As for who did this? Who ordered the sunny skies? Well, mostly fossil fuel companies did, but we shouldn’t let ourselves off too easily either. According to the sixth IPCC report, anthropogenic (anthro → human → our fault) climate change causes and worsens droughts. The report also warns that “Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.” .
And we are continuing to put in orders for dry summers and rising seas, locking in emissions that will drive up global temperatures.
The rain has returned, but it may not bring respite. Drought hardens the ground, making it more susceptible to flooding and erosion. A week of heavy rain could wreak havoc on the landscape, sending landslides crashing into the streams and rivers. Rain running over soil as if it was concrete, shearing off anything that cannot hold on. We might not notice from UBC’s sparkling towers, but that does not mean it isn’t happening. If all this unsettles you, good. I want you to panic.
We get there is a climate crisis and we know October should be well into the season of the dripping raincoat. And still… “isn’t the weather nice?” Are we not connecting the dots? Or perhaps bored of this monotonous cataclysm?
Sometimes eco-anxiety gets the better of me and comments about the nice weather start to chip away at the thin veneer of my composure. But then I remember — this is our future.
We will live the rest of our lives in this crisis, and while I believe we have the responsibility to bear witness and to take action, we also have to live. To enjoy the sublime beauty of the natural world. It is the little things that will get us through. Wind in the trees. Seaweed in the current. Or my dog’s fascination with the smell of wet grass and concrete today after one millimetre of rain (that smell is called petrichor which is, incidentally, an awesome word). At least for me, it’s always the little things. If it is to be sunny in October, I suppose we should enjoy the sunset.
But don’t forget that October’s sunny skies are because of the climate crisis. The weather may be beautiful, but no, it’s not nice.
The weather is coming for us.
Forrest Berman-Hatch is a fifth-year student studying anthropology and political science. He is a columnist for Unwreck the Beach, The Ubyssey's sustainability column.
This is an opinion letter. It does not reflect the opinions of The Ubyssey as a whole. You can submit an opinion at ubyssey.ca/pages/submit-an-opinion.