The Great Wildfire Debate Lights Up Editorial Pages in Manitoba.
For simplicity, I'm putting the series of events discussed below, in chronological order.
It's time to wake up and smell the smoke!
As wildfires rage around us on the Canadian prairies, forcing thousands of poor souls from their homes, we click our tongues and complain about sore eyes and reduced visibility on the roads. (Trust me, reduced visibility is the least of our worries.)
We apparently lack the brain power to listen to and actually hear what the world's scientific community has been warning us about for over a generation. If we do nothing to curb our insatiable appetite for fossil fuels, we can expect more and worse heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and a host of other extreme weather events which are decidedly not positive, in our future. Our relentless burning of gas, oil and coal, apparently without a thought for tomorrow, produces greenhouse gases which trap the sun's heat and cause the earth's average temperature to increase.
We stayed in a hotel in Regina which was filling up fast with people who have had to flee their homes - "environmental refugees" from the north, now numbering some 13 thousand in total in Saskatchewan alone. That province is now in the midst of the largest evacuation in its history. These scenarios are unfolding pretty much as they have been predicted to do, if only anyone would listen!
One would think such spectacularly ominous events would give we mortals "cause for pause" - a chance to reconsider our ways.
We drove to Prince Albert Park in Saskatchewan a couple of week ago. A road into the park is being "improved." We were treated to many kilometres of heavy equipment - caterpillars, front-end loaders, earth-scrapers, big trucks...all doing their part to scratch away at Mother Earth, emitting their own payloads of greenhouse gases into the air - just so "connoisseurs of the backcountry"can more easily access the wilderness with their luxury RVs - all on the comfort of a superhighway, of course.
In the face of this vast wildfire threat, Environment Canada has been scrambling to advise those with breathing problems, especially, to stay indoors. And, surprise, surprise, such people are reporting it harder to breathe!
I used to think that we humans wouldn't sit up and take notice of the climate crisis until we were gasping for air in the streets.
I was wrong.
We are gasping for air in the streets! And we are still turning a blind eye.
(And below that is my follow-up letter.)
There was also this response to my first letter, submitted to the Neepawa Press.
Fire is one of the main ways by which nutrients in dead trees are returned to the soil, and made ready for the next generation of trees. This cycle of fire and regrowth in forests was established millions of years before the emergence of humans.
It is sadly true that some fires are started by humans, but to claim that the current smoke and misery caused by forest fires is a result of man-made climate change is simply wrong.
Norm Kendall of Neepawa,
I then submitted this response to the Neepawa Press;
My recent letter in the Neepawa Press has brought quite a negative response from friends and others.
The misunderstanding is over the "link" that I drew between wildfires and manmade climate change. My critics apparently think such a link was my own idea! Nothing could be further from the truth! I was merely the messenger!
The letter warns that the greenhouse gases we are producing by burning oil, gas and coal, are leading to severe weather events, like droughts (which lead to wildfires), which are more frequent and serious all the time. But that is precisely what all the leading authorities on the topic, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have been predicting for years. And, official records continue to prove, time and time again, that those predictions are correct!
So, disagree with me, if you will. Just let it be known that, by so doing, you are also disagreeing with the accumulated wisdom (and virtually complete consensus) of our top, renowned climatologists the world over, for many years; Not to mention the World Council of Churches, the mayors of Vancouver and New York, the Premiers of BC and Ontario, the US Military, the World Bank, the Church of England, the insurance industry and now, the Pope.
As for the suggestion that I, myself contribute to global warming, I plead "guilty as charged." All humans leave a carbon footprint. The best I can do is to try to keep mine small. So I drive a car which gets 45 miles per gallon and travel as much as I can by train, which is less damaging than air travel.
My letter was "sharply-worded"for a reason. In my experience, the "low-key" kind get no response at all. And, as our planet continues to be dangerously degraded by our current behaviour, remaining silent (or low-key) is not an option for me.