Canada's blazing fires, wildfire refugees, and New York City's plight in breathing our smoke has got me thinking about the ways we're all connected. When it happens to larger-than-life New York City, it seems even bigger to me than it has seemed until now, and, already to me, it has seemed overwhelmingly huge.
I've been breathing summer smoke from wildfires for a good seven years now. But as New York and other far-flung places send firefighters to help us battle our flames, it's a burning reminder we really are in this thing together. This planetary thing where we share the same oceans, land and air, locked together in the human predicament.
And yet, despite all we share, we can't effectively collaborate internationally and in Canada, our government can't get its act together, not strongly or boldly enough, to really stop this thing. I keep calling it "this thing." I mean climate change. Global warming. Megafires. Noxious smoke. The end of the world as we've known it.
“Pretty sad that a country like Canada can't even put a dent in its climate change plan. I've had many doubts that this country will ever meet any targets set. There is too much misinformation, disinformation and greenwashing by the oil and gas sector.” This comment from Canada’s National Observer subscriber John Akermanis was written in response to Thursday’s article by Barry Saxifrage, “Blindly accelerating into the climate train.”
“Too many people who can't tell the difference between fact and fiction. Unfortunately, Canada will be left behind, become the biggest emitter, while our PM continues to talk-the-talk with little action to show for it. Of course, it would be far worse if the Conservatives were in power,” Akermanis concluded.
Yeah, I thought, reading the passages. This pretty much sums it up. It’s bad. Really bad. But it could be worse. Well, actually, if things stay on course, it will be worse. We all know that.
Canada’s 400-plus wildfires blaze beyond what firefighters can control, beyond human control. That’s freaking scary.
And it's messing with the public health of New Yorkers, so now it’s really on the cultural significance map. The wildfires out West didn’t have quite the cachet to make the top of the New York Times two days in a row. But will more New Yorkers connect the dots between the ugly pollution and the fossil fuel industry?
Finally, perhaps more people will start talking about climate change, worrying about it, fearing it (as we should) and thinking about what to do about it. #CanadaBurns #CanadaFires
My friends in New York City tell me that no one talks much about climate change. Not in their social circles. Too depressing. Well, perhaps now they will, I’m thinking. Finally, perhaps more people will start talking about climate change, worrying about it, fearing it (as we should) and thinking about what to do about it. But will they really link the wildfire smoke they are choking on today with the noxious and greedy plundering of fossil fuel resources tomorrow? Of that, I’m not so sure.
It’s very simple, but not everybody makes the connection. Climate change is directly related to fossil fuel use, those decomposed carbon-based organisms that died millions of years ago. They are non-renewable and supply 80 per cent of the world’s energy needs. So while our government subsidizes and permits our fossil fuel industries to expand, and we buy it, climate change and global heating accelerate. We burn and get burned. We need the government to be stronger, bolder and act faster to wind down our fossil fuel addiction. To represent the people, you and me, not the oil and gas industry.
Maybe I’ve watched too many post-apocalyptic movies since Mad Max (OK, yes, I have), but I think it goes downhill from here if we don’t wise up fast. Our Canadian government should put its Liberal foot down and say no to all new fossil fuel projects. We should begin winding down. ASAP. We should do at least as well as America, if not better.
Meanwhile, you don’t like that grimy, sorry excuse for air you’re breathing, New York City? Want to know who’s to blame?
“Say their names as you huddle indoors. As you cough," tweeted Richard Brooks of Stand.earth Thursday morning: Exxon, Shell, BP, Total, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Cenovus, Suncor, TC Energy, Enbridge, Marathon.
And, there’s one more that should go on the list.
Say that name, too.