Climate change will hammer Canada. We’ve earned it.
The blaze which scorched the town of Lytton BC off of the map was just the beginning for intense wildfires that have now led the province to declare an official state of emergency. More than three hundred conflagrations are raging as communities are evacuated. More than a thousand kilometres away, I can smell the smoke. Indigenous communities in Manitoba and Northern Ontario are also being driven from their homes by raging wildfires. Ontario’s Doug Ford cut provincial wildfire response spending by 70% in his first budget, so he’s doubtless reluctant to consider a similar declaration, lest he be reminded of it. Not just him, of course. Naturally Alberta’s Jason Kenney cut firefighting budgets, too. After all, when all of the experts are telling us to expect more wildfires, you really need to hamstring the people trying to protect us from them, right? Air quality warnings for smoke are blanketing cities across the nation. Smoke in Toronto is thick enough to redden the sun.
Think hard about your next lungful. How does it taste? That’s the first whiff of Canada’s future going up in smoke. It’s like second hand smoke, except that it’s the natural end product of our national refusal to take climate change seriously for decades, so it’s dishonest to blame anyone else. This is oil based economy coming home to roost, and it is just getting started. When the ash settles, it may be a new record wildfire season, the biggest since the record was last broken in 2018. Which was BC’s worst fire season since the record was also broken the year before that. Sound like a trend? That’s because it is. If the record breaks again this year, it won’t stand for too long. There’s worse to come.
We squander a lot of media time speculating about what caused the first ignition. Accident? Carelessness? Malice? What matters isn’t what struck the match, but the fact that the conditions that allow tiny fires to rapidly become big out of control fires have been magnified. We’ve understood perfectly well how our warming climate means more and bigger wildfires. Cold winters used to freeze pine beetle eggs to reduce their numbers, but our winters are warming faster than our summers, so now the beetles thrive, killing millions of acres of trees…