Unless you live in Kenora, or Yellowknife, or a similar northern city, a white Christmas is a diminishing possibility. With continued planetary warming, it will soon be on the endangered event list.
A white Christmas is part of our national Canadian psyche. Although we complain about winter or go south to avoid it, it is in our bones. James Adams, an art critic, referring to a picture by a member of the Group of Seven, Arthur Lismer, entitled “A Clear Winter” well expressed our collective feelings:
“A boreal forest, quilt –like snow, sunlight brightening an aquamarine sky – it’s hard to imagine a landscape more clearly, crispy Canadian than a Clear Winter.”
Does it matter that we identify less with Northern winters? Many people might say: “So what? Culture is always changing. In the last two decades Canadians have adopted more of the feelings and attitudes of our neighbour to the South.”
These people have a point. But the disappearing White Christmas is symbolic of risks that go beyond culture.
Climate change will have serious consequences beyond changing a sub-Arctic climate into a Northern Temperate Climate. Canada will probably be less affected by those consequences than equatorial countries.
Yet Canadians should think about our world “neighbours” who will face the most severe consequences of climate change. Canada must act to reduce the magnitude of the perils they will face.
2015 is the year for Canada to take a lead in the international negotiations at Paris. And if we do, there is a chance that we can wrest a white Christmas back from the Grinch of climate change.