As about six inches of snow fell on Calgary and Edmonton last week, and Fahrenheit temperatures plunged to the 20-above zero level and stayed there, the thoughts of some Albertans – of this one, anyway – focused on the subject of global warming.

“How come,” I asked a friend in Virginia, who knows about such things, “how come, if the globe is warming, we have mid-winter arriving here before the end of October?”

My trouble, he replied, is that I don’t keep up with scientific discovery. Had I not read, for instance, the report of the chief of the Space Exploration Department of the Central Astronomical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences and supervisor of the Astrometria project of the Russian part of the International Space Station. He warned last summer that another problem is rapidly overshadowing the global warming problem.

This, he continued, was the problem of global cooling. There is mounting evidence that long before the global warming threat begins to become serious, we may be entering another glacial age. This man is Dr. Khabibullo Abdusamatov, and he reached his conclusion from his readings of solar cycles.

Dr Abdusamatov notes that there are three types of solar cycles – an 11-year, a 100-year, and 200-year. The effects of the 11- and 100-year cycles afford little cause for concern. The 200-year cycle, however, is a very different matter.

“The whole world has recognized the global warming theory, which pictures catastrophic situations in the future,” he told the Russian press. “I do not march in step with the world at this point. However, my theory has raised a certain interest in other countries. Hardly had I made a statement when I received several messages from scientists living in the USA, Iceland and other countries. They wanted to know more of my theory. They also want to know if I have delivered a detailed report on the matter and where it was published.”

Dr. Abdusamatov said that a global reduction of temperatures would become evident about halfway into this century because solar radiation will be receding. The big chill will begin slowly, gathering pace between 2050 and ’55. In effect it will repeat the conditions recorded between 1645 and 1715 when all canals froze in Holland and severe cold forced the evacuation of many communities. “The coldest years of the middle of the 21st century will be warmer than at the end of the 17th century,” he said.

The unusual cold is not confined to North America. Moscow reports much the same condition this year and is on much the same latitude. (It’s just south of the 56th Parallel; Edmonton is just south of the 54th.) In Edmonton, however, chilly weather has its compensations. Anything that tends to refute the global warming theory tends to be warmly received, since the Kyoto Treaty, if enforced, would deal a serious blow to Alberta’s oil and gas economy.

As it is, the Alberta economy, always prone to a boom and bust cycle, has never boomed as it has this year. Housing prices have nearly quadrupled since the 1990s, city populations are exploding, ads outside restaurants and other retailers no longer seek customers, but rather employees, extolling the high pay and excellent working conditions. Urban streets, designed for traffic loads much lighter than what they’re being called upon to bear, are clogged as never before in evening and morning rush hours. What was once a 20-minute drive to work can now take up to an hour. Essential urban freeway construction is delayed by the shortage of skilled labor.

Most crowded of all is the northern Alberta town of Fort McMurray, base of massive the tar sands mining projects, where workers are living in heated tents, all other housing being packed full.

Meanwhile, the Conservative federal government, whose birthplace and power base is Alberta, is resolved not to enforce the Kyoto Treaty because they hold enforcement impossible for all practical purposes. Such an attitude is said to be costing it support in central Canada, particularly in Quebec.

Cold weather, in other words, works for the Tories – as it does for most of Alberta. So while Albertans may complain about the weather, in their hearts they’re saying: “Long live the boom! Bring on the snow!”



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