Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Local Warming

Just as the first spring month begins, Estonia has finally gotten to the point of winter. It's a few degrees below zero, with a nice coating of powder to cover up most of the sludge - at least here in continental Tartu; I understand it's less pleasant on the coasts. We've managed to go through the entire winter of 2007/2008 without a single proper frost, with the exception of an odd cold snap in November and a few days of -15C in January - which, compared to the experience of standing in the middle of a field waiting for the bus in -30C and a Holy Shit chill factor, is nothing. The sort of weather where Icelanders start debating whether they should put on a sweater.*

It's difficult to get Estonians excited about any cause, and despite obvious exceptions, environmentalism has an especially tough fight ahead of it - climate change has been decidedly changing Estonian weather for the better. Although there is a väliseestlane in my inbox gloating about +14C in the Toronto area. Bastard.

Also in my inbox is some Orkut spam on behalf of Marek Strandberg, calling for a public outcry over the plans to build a nuclear power station in Estonia. Strandberg has been an odd duck since the parliamentary elections, and I'm afraid the Green party's reserve of voter enthusiasm is going the way of Res Publica very quickly. They're not in the coalition, and thus they are more or less by default in bed with Savisaar (and I apologize for the mental image). They have singularly failed to get anything useful done, but I've seen the tabloids have a go at them for living posh at the taxpayer's expense - the yellow press defaults to MPs' company cars on a slow news day.

Never mind his suspect claims that the power station would be of an outdated type - Finland's building one now, a completely new design, safest one ever constructed, and it seems pretty self-evident that we'd get one of those - or the fact that a nuclear power station in Estonia proper is a spacey last resort, an idea bounced around if we are muscled out of both the Ignalina reconstruction in Lithuania and Finland's continuing nuke construction. Oy, Marek - if it really comes down to that, do you really suggest we keep mining shale or running the Narva plants on fossil fuels instead of nukes? Very funny, Mr. Environmentalist. Now pull the other one.

I didn't vote for Strandberg, but I enjoyed the idea of him, so I'm sorry to see him overcome by the KERA influence and resorting to shameless populist agendas. This entire sordid business has a faint green afterglow, and I don't like the look of it.

* You think I'm joking, but I've been to Iceland. At the rotten shark farm the local dude gave us a 20-minute lecture about the curing process, in a wet Arctic blizzard, wearing sandals and a fleece.


AndresS said...

The väliseestlane in your inbox should keep his (or her?) mouth shut. We had one nice warm day but winter here has been the one of the coldest and snowiest in recent memory. We may come close to setting the all time record for snowfall in a year and as I type this I'm listening to the a forecast calling for another major storm with ice and snow coming from the south.

Time to move back to Eesti to enjoy the good weather. :)

Kristopher said...

Here's a Green in the yellow press on the
currently wasteful use of oil shale.

Say Strandberg and besides ideological leader of the Greens I still think of "paper recycling" -- his role, alleged role, in the sale of roubles to the Chechen rebels.

I lean pro-Green and pro-nuke. They are the same thing.

Giustino said...

We were warned by SDE that the Rohelised were the "new Res Publica." Perhaps they were right.

But at the same time, what can the opposition really do if they don't want to appear to be in bed with Savisaar?

Does the Green Party really have a list of supporters it would like to nominate for õiguskantseler?

Anyway, in today's Postimees, 62 percent of Estonians said they would like the potential power plant to be located far and away -- in Sillamäe.

Karla said...

AndresS said...
The väliseestlane in your inbox should keep his (or her?) mouth shut.

Sehr frech, Sehr... and unnecessarily so. Vile weather notwithstanding, calm yourself, else you miss the whole point of local warming and recurrent episodes of extreme weather as the established symptoms of global warming.

The day I reported (without a single gloat, btw) temps of +14C in the Viagra Peninsula, 'twas so, with the corollary that within two weeks we'd also had an unprecedented day at -14C. That sunny day of +14C was followed by a day of pissing rain at +12C, which in turn was followed by days of snow and plummetting temps.

Niagara has always had a microclimate sharply at variance with Toronto, just an hour away. But it is the proliferation of such microclimates, even WITHIN the Peninsula, which gives cause for concern. St Catharines may be sunny and balmy, while Welland just 20-25 minutes away on the 406 may have two feet of snow.

We've had instances even this winter when the 'Soo' (Sault Ste Marie) consistently shows temps warmer than Toronto. I froze my ass in Tallinn in 1995-98, but since then there have been green Christmases and balmy temps in midwinter. My old pal Seppo in Helsinki just sent pics of his hideaway up north on Virmasvesi showing the lake completely ice-free at Christmas - first time in living memory. And very distressing for Seppo, who loves to ice-fish when he's not drinking or cranking around the WiFi antenna on the roof of his cabin.
On Feb.26, we basked in relatively mild weather here while flights to Pearson were being re-routed and cancelled. We were concerned, as my daughter was flying in from Ottawa. Fortunately she managed to get home on time to her husband by taking Potter airlines into the Island Airport -
'clumsy landing,' she said, but avoided the long drive across Tronna. Thus it has been with many of her regular business flights returning from Vancouver. I'm not a weather bug, but one notices these things when one is squatting or driving here on bare pavements and hears about Pearson airport being locked down and wondering if daughter is sleeping on a bench in Calgary airport.
Tornadoes in north temperate zones used to be pretty uncommon. Ontario now has numerous seasonal occurrences. The one in 1985 killed 8 and injured 155 in Barrie and devastated whole subdivisions. And wasn't there one in Rakvere just a couple of years ago which uprooted some massive oaks?
Point is, 'warming' is not uniform, and rapid cycles of frost and flood (as in western Europe) are symptomatic 'extreme weather' occurrences. So one one snowy cold winter in Canada doesn't invalidate the 'warming' theory.
Rather like sleeping with a capricious woman, I suppose. The extreme swings validate both climactic and climatic theories.

AndresS said...


I'm in no way trying to argue the effects of climate change, rather my point was Toronto weather this year is nothing to write home (or Tartu) about. No insult intended. :)

Karla said...


Understood. I was being defensive about my veracity re the crazy +14C in Niagara. Last night we had an all-night dump of snow ON TOP of freezing rain, so you Torontonians or tartlased needn't envy us too much...Abysmal road conditions...
Nuke power is perhaps the best course, given the unpalatable alternatives, and I'm glad the Estos are following the Finns in that direction, and hope the Ontario gov't makes good on its pledges to replace and/or expand our old nuke facilities.
Ironic corollary re Al Gore -- and here Karla DOES gloat just a bit -- is that while he allegedly lost the 2000 election to Bush (let's stand by for the exposé books on Florida chads and Ohio fiddling in the next few years), he is 'globally' triumphant. Bush's necon policies have been discredited at home and abroad, and the lame duck limps about in disgrace while awaiting the moving vans. Gore dines out globally on his movie and takes home a Nobel, an Oscar, an Emmy, plus a shower of other honors.
Great pity, though, that both Bush's disgrace and Gore's kudos come with concomitant global catastrophies.

Giustino said...

I agree with Karla. Canada sucks, although I do have some respect Jason Priestley's work.

Karla said...

Giustino said...
"Canada sucks." 'Suck' is a transitive verb, requiring an object, like 'Uncle Sam's ____.' Now, both grammatically and factually correct. ;)

Paraphrasing that 'if you enjoyed' formula on the Amazon site... If you enjoy Jason Priestly, you also enjoy Céline Dion, and if you enjoy
Céline Dion, you MUST LOVE Margaret Atwood... ;)

Being a Mordecai Richler fan, I naturally feel about Atwood much as Mark Twain felt about Jane Austen:

"Why I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book."

"Everytime I read 'Pride and Prejudice' I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone."

"It seems a great pity that they allowed her to die a natural death."

Now working our way back through the interdisciplinary analogies, you'll figure out how I feel about the caterwauling Sea-lion (as I pronounce it) and Jason P...



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