Toronto is having a Newfoundland summer.
Now I don't mean, even though it would be a wonderful idea, that there are bake-apple festivals at Bloor and Yonge. Or that the Bay Street stockbrokers are out jigging codfish on "food fish" weekends. Though that, too, would be an encouraging, even edifying, spectacle.
No, what I mean is that, for most of July, temperatures in the Ontario capital and beyond are in that sweet temperate zone of the low 20s, and there seem to be as many grey and rainy days as sunny ones. With a great heave of homesickness, I've even seen fog obscuring the shoreline of Lake Ontario and the nether parts of the metropolis itself. I know it's odd, but when I see the Royal York hotel clouded by mist, I immediately think of Twillingate.
For Toronto, a Newfoundland summer in 2009 is a godsend. Because as all of Canada and a good portion of the world knows, this city is caught in the turmoil of a garbage strike. Its citizens are doing the best they can with the ever-growing heaps of garbage, but it's been a hard go.
For a city that so much prides itself on its environmental credentials - Toronto professes to be green with evangelical fervour - it really hurts to be seen as a giant litter box. Nightly news shots of rats making a buffet of the mountains of mess are a blow to civic pride, as well as a health hazard. And the smell: As Maclean's magazine put it so delicately on its recent cover, Toronto Stinks.
Which is one reason why having a Newfoundland summer in Toronto this year has been such a great piece of luck. The strike has been - just - bearable because the city has been cool, grey and rainy. Just like home.
I find it curious, though, that the city is so ambivalent in its response to this cooler-than-normal summer. Curious because it's very obvious that, if the weather were hotter, what now "stinks" would be rancid, what is barely tolerable would be utterly unendurable. Yet, night after night on most of the city's TV news shows, you hear in the faux hearty chatter that is now obligatory in the weather segment great moaning and whining about "where has our summer gone?"
Personally, I don't know what it is they're yearning for. More days of blistering mid-30-degree saunas during a garbage strike? Surely not. But gurgle on they do, hoping or promising for hotter days yet to come.
What we do not hear from them, from any one of them, is the slightest indication of puzzlement over how or why so suddenly, in this age of the greatest emergency our planet has ever faced - global warming - things have gotten cool. Not a furrowed brow among the lot over the consideration that, contrary to the visions of Al Gore and David Suzuki or NASA's own anti-global warming Nostradamus, James Hansen, the great trend line of an ever-warming world is being contradicted nightly in their own forecasts.
I do recall, however, when, during the few periods Toronto was experiencing higher-than-normal temperatures - there was that period, remember, almost coincident with Stéphane Dion's election as federal Liberal leader, when Ontario warmed up more than usual - no weathercast was complete without some reference to global warming. That the then current conditions were "proof" or "another sign" or an "indication" that global warming was upon us. When every weathercast was incomplete without some pointed reference to how "unusual" such weather was.
I bring this up merely to make a single point. Not that these studio meteorologists were making the elementary mistake of confounding weather with climate, for this is a distinction familiar now even to kindergartners. Rather, to point out how "accepted" the vague, soft, but relentlessly propagandized theory of global warming has become. That being on the "right" side of the global warming argument is so very much the politically correct place to be. It's the "virtuous" side to be on, so naturally our supper-hour meteorologists, even if unconsciously, were eager to encourage virtue.
Now, however, Toronto in July is cool and I am waiting in vain for the lips of just one forecaster to ask how can this be. Waiting just once to hear the familiar phrase "global warming" in a sentence that even hints that the theory behind it is so much more tentative than we have been urged with such fervour to believe.
And while I'm waiting, perhaps I could recommend to people who study or report on the weather a wonderfully comprehensive and fearless book on the subject by Australian geologist Ian Plimer called Heaven and Earth: Global Warming - The Missing Science. If there are any willing to hear some truly inconvenient truths on the stampeding advocacy of global warming, Mr. Plimer's book is a collection of some of the sternest.