The Summer of Climate Hell

Lahaina, West Kelowna and the need for action


The Summer of Climate Hell

There’s a recent cartoon in the New Yorker where two frogs are sitting in a pot of hot water on a stove and the pot is getting hotter. One points to the temperature knob. The other says, “yes… but how can we be sure that the temperature increase was caused by man?” In another, one frog in the pot says to the other, “I know the water is slowly heating up, but I figure that’s the younger generation’s problem.

This summer, Lahaina burned to the ground. I know two individuals who lost their homes in Lahaina. And although the loss of property is devastating, it’s agonizing to hear stories of those whose remains are now being discovered in cars where people burned to death trying to escape the inferno.

Closer to home, my relatives have a condo on Okanagan Lake in Kelowna. They sent me photographs from their balcony showing what the fire looked like across the lake in West Kelowna. Although they had just arrived, they immediately headed back to Surrey before the official evacuation order came. They said they were lucky that they had somewhere else to go. But others weren’t so lucky. Lake Okanagan Resort burned to the ground and close to 200 homes were lost or severely damaged. A day later, another friend on Shuswap Lake sent me photographs of the other side of the lake where the Scotch Creek fire raged, turning the sky bright red with flames. And then there’s Yellowknife, where 20,000 people were evacuated.

Serge Schmemann wrote an op-ed for New York Times in August titled, “It Is No Longer Possible to Escape What We Have Done to Ourselves,” where he discussed the hottest July on record and how almost 6,000 wildfires had already consumed 59,000 square miles of land in Canada. “That’s like all New York State incinerated and the fires are burning still.” Schmemann quotes TRU
Professor Peter Flanagan that “extreme weather conditions all around the world are interconnected and insidiously self-accelerating. The Arctic is warming four times faster than the rest of the world altering the fast-flowing air currents high above the planet, which then cause wild fluctuations in temperature and precipitation.

If Lahaina can burn to the ground, Lake Okanagan Resort can be reduced to ashes or homes can be destroyed in West Kelowna and the Shuswap, is my home in New Westminster safe? Is your home in Vancouver, Prince George, Surrey or Victoria safe? Because we are now seeing that excess carbon in our atmosphere is causing the climate to warm up and burn down our homes, maybe a tax on carbon emissions will force us to choose different options.

Like frogs in hot water, climate change deniers claim that fossil fuels are not warming the planet despite the evidence, and that man made climate change is a conspiracy propagated by The World Economic Forum, Bill Gates and radical environmentalists who are lighting the fires themselves to further their agenda, so a tax on carbon is just a cash grab.  But it’s easy to make everything a conspiracy when you don’t know how anything works.

Predictably, many climate change deniers are in the same ideological camp as those who called the pandemic a “plandemic” and refused to get vaccinated, touting the horse de-wormer Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID. They listen to Tucker Carlson, Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson instead of legitimate climate scientists and refuse to think that climate change will affect them; that is, until they can no longer afford insurance and their homes burn down. Then they’ll expect the government to do something for them.

We still need fossil fuels and their by-products until we can find alternative sources of energy. But at what point do we, as a society, acknowledge that man-made climate change is one of the most significant problems of our time and must be solved? When our homes burn down?

Or when we’re stuck in a car trying to escape the flames with nowhere to go?

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