John Streicker on the fast thaw and why he got up to his neck

Streicker, a climate scientist and minister of energy, mines and resources for the Yukon, dived up to his neck in icy waters to show rising water levels.

I am a climate scientist. I have been working on the subject for almost 30 years. We had a really high flood in 2007, and they had called it a one-in-200-year event, although I tried to explain to the government that, yes, it could be very rare, but it is exacerbated by climate change.

This year, we had more than double the usual amount of snow in the mountains, fueling this entire lake system. For three weeks, Marsh Lake climbed six feet. I was concerned that the public would not understand how big this year’s flood was. I thought to myself, “Well, I could show it to people.” My wife put on the wetsuit and came out and filmed me.

I took a Sharpie and marked my leg at different times for different heights. I walked in, and when I was up to my chin I said, “In an average year, the lake would be at my feet.” I’ve been tracking lake levels and comparing them to the 20-year average, so I know these numbers well.

As you talk to people, you have 100 to 150 homes that are at risk of being completely flooded. This was one of several ways I tried to help. I wasn’t thinking of it as [being for] a national audience.

This story was told to Michael Fraiman John Streicker, Yukon’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. In July, Streicker posted a popular video of himself using himself as a depth gauge to show rising water levels in the Southern Lakes region.

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