The record-breaking warm weather that made a soggy mess of Cypress Mountain, forcing Olympic organizers to truck snow to the slopes, was caused by climate change, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell says.
And witnessing the "Spring Olympics" has convinced Mr. Campbell he must accelerate his campaign against global warming.
This week, the Premier will face a renewed assault on his controversial carbon tax, as business leaders use today's provincial budget to decry the competitiveness gap arising from the province's levy on fossil fuels.
"I think people are not looking at the big picture. We just had the warmest winter in over 100 years in Vancouver," Mr. Campbell said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.
For the Premier, the scenes of bare ground surrounding the runs at Cypress - which forced organizers to cancel 28,000 tickets - join the catalogue of evidence for global warming, along with the vast forests in British Columbia that have been wiped out by the pine-beetle epidemic.
"In British Columbia, we live with the problems that have been created by climate change. You just can't turn your back on that," Mr. Campbell said.
It was precisely when Cypress needed a healthy snowfall - between Jan. 8 and Feb. 9 - that Metro Vancouver set a record for its warmest weather for that period, going back to its earliest records in 1896.
Andrew Weaver, a leading climate-change scientist from the University of Victoria, cautioned against using a single balmy winter as proof of climate change. "You can never point to a single weather event and say it is due to global warming," he said. "The scientific community would get creamed for that."
But he said the trends do point to an increasing probability that Cypress will endure more muddy winters. "We do know the likelihood of breaking warm weather records is increasing," he said.
Business leaders are gearing up to challenge a central plank in Mr. Campbell's climate-change initiative: The B.C. carbon tax on fossil fuels is set to jump again in July, including an increase to 4.45 cents a litre for gasoline. Without other jurisdictions following B.C.'s lead, the province's industry sees a competitive disadvantage that is growing.
Increasingly, Mr. Campbell is emphasizing that climate change can be an economic opportunity. "We have to continue to wed the huge opportunities created by new green technologies and the opportunities to reduce our carbon impact," he said. "We're going to take advantage with that."
During the Vancouver Games, the Premier opted out of a series of high-level meetings on climate change, trade and energy in Washington with the Obama administration and U.S. governors. Instead he hosted California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, and Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown.
He said those meetings in Vancouver will help push development of a "green corridor" down the West Coast. "British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California are going to be in the vanguard; we are going to lead economic growth as a result of that," Mr. Campbell said. "And I think we're going lead to healthier and more sustainable communities as well."
As for the international criticism of the Games, much of it weather-related, Mr. Campbell is not concerned that B.C. will earn a black eye.
"I think the media has really turned around substantially, and frankly it was only a few we were talking about," he said. "Our events have been packed, they have been enthusiastic and international, everything you would hope an event would be. When you talk with the broadcasters, they talk about they've never had a broadcast like this in the history of the Olympic Games. I think it's been a really incredibly successful event."