It’s accelerating. Faster than we thought it would. We underestimated.
Those are the takeaways from reaction to the “heat dome” over the Pacific Northwest, and the resulting forest fires raging in British Columbia.
We have to brace ourselves for more frequent extreme weather events, and we have to learn to adapt to them, we’re being told. We can’t stop the climate armageddon. We have passed the tipping point. So pack a go-bag with at least one change of clothing, an extra pair of shoes and toiletries in case an extreme weather event forces you to evacuate your home in a hurry.
Reports the CBC: “We are now committed to a certain degree of warming in the world because of the emissions of the past,” Ryan Ness, the adaptation research director for the institute and co-author of a (Canadian Institute for Climate Choices report on the public health impacts of climate change), said in an interview on Friday.
“So while, in the longer term, it’s absolutely critical to reduce greenhouse gases as much as possible, as fast as possible, to keep things from getting even worse, there is a certain amount of climate change that we can no longer avoid. And the only way to really deal with that is to prepare, to adapt and to become more resilient to this change in climate.”
This is the second time the past has caught up to Canada this year. Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada was already reeling from the discoveries of the remains of Indigenous children found in unmarked graves on the grounds of Indian Residential Schools run by the Catholic Church. There has been fingerpointing — at the Catholic Church, at the Canadian government, and at British colonialism that was bent on “taking the Indian out” of Indigenous children. Several Catholic churches have been burned down and defaced, and statues of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria have been toppled.
Some are blaming the wealthy for the current state of the climate. Not the common man, who is “too worked to the bone to do anything about it,” one person on Twitter wrote in a thread with close to 300 comments that started with the question: is anyone else scared shitless about the climate emergency?
Hundreds of thousands marched with Greta Thunberg around the world, and the rich industrialists ignored them. Do you think they will do anything “to keep things from getting worse” now? But I don’t think all the blame rests with the wealthy alone. Anyone who can reduce their carbon footprint but doesn’t bears some responsibility, too. The common man can speak out. Greta did.
The question for many now, I think, is just how quickly will things accelerate? It’s on their radar, after the “heat dome” garnered headlines around the world. It was almost 50C for three days running in the small town of Lytton, British Columbia, which was subsequently destroyed by a forest fire with two lives lost and some 1,000 left homeless. There are now more than 180 forest fires burning in that province.
Another report points to the permafrost melting in the tundra of Canada’s Arctic, causing land movement and, worse, the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
So, are temperatures above a smothering 50C going to become the norm in the former land of the ice and snow? Will there be more droughts? Will there be more flooding? Higher winds? Tornadoes?
People are “scared shitless.”
There is a growing consensus that extreme weather events and climate change are the biggest threat to civilization today — not 10 or 20 years from now. They are wiping out communities and critical infrastructure in a matter of moments.
I fear many more statues will be toppled, and worse, as people react to the “emissions of the past” as well as the emissions of the present.
To be continued . . .