Severe hurricanes down south, and droughts and wildfires more locally have sparked discussion on whether these events are byproducts of climate change or not.

One sure thing is the series of hurricanes - Harvey, Irma and Jose - and droughts and wildfires hitting parts of western Canada as well as the United States are symptoms of what scientists predicted climate change would look like.

Terri Lang - a meteorologist with Environment Canada - said with the past year being just a small blip in the earth's history, they'd need decades more of similar trends before diagnosing it as a result of climate change.

"It would have to be, I think, decades," she said. "The earth has been here for billions of years. Where we live here in Saskatchewan, this used to be a sea. The oil and gas that we burn, that's from a tropical rainforest that used to sit underneath here. Even 10,000 years ago there was a kilometre-thick piece of glacier that sat overtop of us here in Saskatchewan. It's so difficult. People want to say that it's happening just based on a few years, but you can't because the scale that we live in, and how long we've been here, you just can't do it."

Lang did say that if, decades down the road, they are able to confirm through the scientific method these natural disasters are a result of climate change, it would likely be too late.

"It's kind of seeming that way, isn't it? Especially when you have people that don't necessarily believe that it's possible or happening, so won't take steps to mitigate anything that might happen. There's that issue as well."

Hurricanes feed off warm surface waters, as they've had in the Caribbean recently, but climate change doesn't just involve global warming.

"it's more severe - meaning higher impacts, more-extreme extremes, higher warmer temperatures, colder colder temperatures - everyone thinks climate change is just on the warming scale but you can also get colder colder temperatures as well. It has to be sort of on that global scale," said Lang.

Lang also said vulnerability is a key factor in gauging the severity of events.

"Most of the people in the United States live along a seaboard - along a coastal seaboard - New York, Miami, all those places," she said. "If something bad is going to happen, that's where you're going to see a lot of effects, because it affects the most people. Houston another example, there's a city of five, six million people right on the coast that is vulnerable to hurricanes. That type of thing. It's our own vulnerability and the lack of planning as well.

"We see that in Calgary - cities built on rivers that are known to flood, that type of thing. So that's another use of the equation is our own vulnerability and how we try and mitigate what's coming as well."

If weather patterns seen over the past decade continue for decades to come, scientists might be able to then pinpoint the cause as anthropogenic - or man-made - climate change. But at that point, as Lang says, if people don't take steps to mitigate the effects, people could be in some hot water.

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