By James Fife
I've noted before how a big element of our adjustment to our new life in James Bay involves the differences in climate between Victoria and San Diego. Famous as Victoria is for its mild winters, San Diego weather is generally touted as among the most even-keeled and tolerable climates in the world.
That is, until recently.
Since we began our transition north, it seems that we have been witnessing a miniature version of global climate change between Home North and Home South. More and more it seems that the blast of air that hits us when we step off the plane in Victoria feels no different from what we left behind in San Diego. We both have those little weather apps on our phones that let you switch between reports in two different cities. We were a little confused the other day when I switched between Victoria and La Mesa, but we couldn't tell which was which immediately. The temperatures were only a few degrees Fahrenheit apart and I had to look at the names attached to each report to see which city's weather I was looking at. It was an eerie sensation of our two points of reference suddenly overlapping in an unusual way.
Then there was another similarity that news reports from Victoria brought to the fore: no rain. That would have naturally bypassed all notice in San Diego—once February passes, we can start leaving piles of things outside for months without the slightest fear of their getting wet. But from what I read of comments about Victoria's summer, it's changed into San Diego in terms of not a drop falling. I haven't experienced enough B.C. summers to confirm that this is a change, but I can see that things do look a bit browner (that is, more Californian) than I recall from summer visits there over the years.
It seems like the equator has started to move north. The whole waistband of the Earth has shifted up towards its chest, like the way Lionel Barrymore wears his pants in Key Largo, his belt cinched up near his collar bone practically. Like Lionel's pants pockets, this seems to bring our SoCal weather north to Vancouver Island. At the same time, though, tugging up the Earth's trousers has caused the tropics to shift up as well. Now San Diego has had a series of humid summers that feel more like Hawai'i. And it's not just my imagination. A botanical garden here has the tropical plant called a corpse flower, known from its horrendously awful death-like odour. This works for the plant, because its attracts pollinating flies. Humans find it less attractive. Fortunately, the plant blossoms only once in a vast stretch of time, when conditions are right. This year, it's bloomed twice. I take that as a sign that the tropics have packed up and moved to California, the way the Mediterranean has arrived in B.C.
That probably sounds good to some, but personally, I like my climate zones to stay put. Because the result is much more than the inconvenience of more blooms from stinky flowers or a brown lawn. It means another way that B.C. is now looking like California: fire. The terrible and tragic wildfires in the interior have been distressing reading this summer, and for me, they mark a very unwelcome twinning of South and North weather. Marilyn and I can relate to the folks in Williams Lake and thereabouts, because the fire season is a regular (increasing) feature in our parts. I can vividly recall a few years back when a wildfire that started well over 50 miles away from us in the East County burned relentlessly westward until it was visible from our front door. We had our 'life-boat' selection of possessions loaded into the car and were just waiting for the reverse-911 notice to evacuate, to drive away, not knowing if our home would be there when we returned. Luckily for us, that call was not needed, even though the fire burned in places to the edge of the freeway that ran below our house.
So, I can well sympathize with my B.C. neighbours who have suffered the same and far worse because of that northward shift in climate. As much as some might welcome more sunny days than even Victoria gets, I for one am not keen on seeing my two homes switch weather patterns. I for one am happy to pay an extra carbon tax to stave that off and am unspeakably depressed at the ostrich-like policy of U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord. Without concerted and concrete action, the phrase "keep the home fires burning" will start to mean something rather less comforting in British Columbia. I wouldn't want that to happen, no matter how many more beach days Tofino would get out of it.
Nor more days to 'enjoy' the corpse plant in full bloom. Thanks, but no thanks.