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Letters Aug. 12: Don't blame volcano for high temperatures; rekindling our war effort; a need for rainbow crosswalks

Salvation Army volunteer Francisca Corral, centre, gives water to a man at the Valley Heat Relief Station on July 11 in Phoenix. MATT YORK, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

We are to blame, so don’t blame volcanoes

Re: “The heat the summer is only ­temporary,” letter, Aug. 10.

The letter cites a recent paper in the top journal Nature Climate Change in attempting to throw shade on this season’s shattering of global temperature records.

Conveniently ignoring multi-decadal increases in global average surface temperature caused by fossil-fuel combustion, the letter suggests that the planetary heating we are witnessing is just a spike caused by the injection of water vapour into the upper atmosphere by a catastrophic volcanic eruption near Tonga in early 2022.

The letter gets only one thing right: Water vapour is a greenhouse gas, like carbon dioxide, and putting more of it into the atmosphere warms the planet by absorbing heat radiating from the surface of our sunlight-warmed planet.

But in a perverse twist, the letter suggests that because the spike “could temporarily raise the global temperature above the 1.5° Celsius mark” one can conclude that “this year’s ‘record’ temperatures have almost nothing to do with human-caused carbon dioxide levels.”

This is dissembling of the highest order. The Nature Climate Change paper focuses not on the causes of global warming, which are very clearly known, but assesses how much sooner the water vapour added by the Tongan eruption will push global average temperatures beyond the near 1.5° C increase that has already been human-caused.

The paper concludes that over the next five years the Tongan eruption has increased the probability of exceeding 1.5° C from 50 to 57 per cent, noting that “human choices still dominate the decadal risk outlook.”

The facts are clear: Global warming is real, it’s increasingly catastrophic, and we can only blame ourselves, not volcanoes.

Thomas F. Pedersen, PhD, FRSC

Professor Emeritus

University of Victoria

Humans have choices about greenhouse gases

Re: “The heat the summer is only ­temporary,” letter, Aug. 10.

The Hunga volcanic eruption last January increased the stratospheric, not the atmospheric, water content by about 13 per cent. The amount of water ejected into the stratosphere was about 146 megatonnes, not four megatonnes.

Although 146 metatonnes is a lot of water, it pales besides what the current atmosphere holds – it is only one hundredth of a millionth of what the earth’s atmosphere holds.

Increasing stratospheric water will increase the greenhouse effect. Water vapour accounts for about two-thirds of the Earth’s greenhouse gases’ effect while carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases account for the remainder.

In a stable world, water vapour’s contribution to greenhouse warming is constant. At a constant annual mean global temperature the atmosphere can hold only so much water vapour before the water vapour condenses and precipitates. When other greenhouse gases rise this will cause a rise in mean global temperature.

Increased temperature of the atmosphere will allow more water vapour to be held. This increased atmospheric water vapour will further aggravate the increase in the annual global mean surface temperature due to rise carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The Nature Climate Change paper concluded that the prior risk for any given year between 2022 and 2026 of exceeding the global mean surface temperature by 1.5°C was 50 per cent and that the Hunga eruption has increased this probability by an additional seven per cent.

A concluding sentence states: “While this increase in 1.5 °C exceedance risk is important, over multiyear timescales the changing risk profile for 1.5°C exceedance is still dominated by human choices.”

These human choices are whether to decrease our output of greenhouse gases and whether to promote activities that sequester carbon dioxide.

This year’s record temperatures have everything to do with human-caused increases in greenhouse gases, although exacerbated by the Hunga eruption and El Niño.

Bernhard H.J. Juurlink

Mill Bay

Underwater volcano? What about meteors

Re: “The heat this year is only ­temporary,” letter, Aug. 10.

It’s not global warming; it’s summer.

I was thrilled to see the informed refutation of all the climate hand-wringer claims of human-caused global warming and other environmental impacts.

As the letter notes, a vast underwater volcano in the Pacific near Tonga spewing gas and heat is the culprit.

Modesty alone (fortunately, I have none) kept him from adding the cosmic heat meteors being tossed at our planet by creatures from Binga-Bonga as a prelude to their invasion plans.

Gene Miller


Another vote against the James Bay tower

Re: “Proposed 17-storey James Bay tower deemed too high, sent back for redesign,” July 29.

This proposal was seeking to significantly increase existing zoning bylaws, density by five times, height by seven times, and virtually eliminate setbacks. It also exceeded the Official Community Plan (OCP) requirements.

I concur with previous letter writers: no to monster towers in James Bay; when city councillors ignore the planners, it’s at our peril; I’m concerned too about relying only on city council to review the revised proposal; there needs to be community consultation and another hearing for this revised plan; this is an opportunity for a development that enhances the space architecturally and environmentally.

The city staff report noted, “the height and density do not meet the objective and policies of the OCP and would be inappropriate in the current and future context.”

Well said! Some city councillors have been clear the proposal is simply too much. Agreed. James Bay is already dense. Agreed.

It is not clear what council wants in the revised proposal. If the existing zoning bylaws and OCP are not guiding this revised proposal, and the subsequent council decision, what criteria are being used? There needs to be clarity and transparency.

My heartfelt thanks to all the people who attended numerous meetings, wrote letters and signed a petition to strongly oppose this proposal.

Let’s continue to positively influence the next stage of this development and preserve our wonderful historical, residential, seaside community!

Debbie Andersen


It’s time to rekindle our war effort

There are wars and there are fires. Both are forcing people out of their homes and taking lives.

We have a choice of building more fighter jets for the war effort, or we can build more water bombers for all who desperately need them.

We can approach this with the same urgency that Canadians accomplished during the Second World War.

Dennis Robinson


Rainbow crosswalks offer openness

Re: “Keep perspective about rainbow crosswalks,” letter, Aug. 10.

Symbols such as rainbow crosswalks (or lack thereof) are more than just symbols: they represent attitudes which could well morph into physical actions, harmful or otherwise.

Just as flags represent love of country and encourage actions inspired by such, they could also inspire war, or prejudice against “outsiders,” i.e. foreigners or people deemed to not quite “fit in.”

Rainbow crosswalks extend an attitude of openness toward some who, until quite recently, were considered to not “fit in.”

A need for the crosswalks might not need to be around forever as (hopefully) society evolves for the better, but for now it is right that they are “there.”

Mary Andrews


Forget Taylor Swift, enjoy Canadian talent

What exactly is the current obsession with Taylor Swift?

She is backed by the cleverest (read expensive) marketing machine, rendering her headline news when her ticket sales are slow, fast, unavailable, whatever. Am I the only one who is getting sick of the inundation of media attention?

She is bubblegum pop, dressed to pimp out her adolescent+ audience at an obscene $13 million per show! This is just a taste of the growing disparity in the arts world; mimicking the global corporate sphere.

There is so much incredible Canadian talent just screaming for attention, but our national news broadcaster along with a lot of other media have placed Taylor Swift front and centre on our news broadcasts.

Have we stooped so low in our expectations of musical entertainment that this imported gong show is what we’re craving?

Vancouver Island, let alone B.C. and the rest of Canada have given rise to world class talent in every genre, many of whom have created music that we still adore many decades later. Do these artists have to die to get a little bit of recognition due on home turf?

Eve Millington



• Email letters to:

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd., Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

• Submissions should be no more than 250 words; subject to editing for length and clarity. Provide your contact information; it will not be published. Avoid sending your letter as an email attachment.

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