The proof is in the streets
In other news, Canada is still in the thick of its worst wildfire season on record. As of Friday, there are 913 active fires across the country, 529 of them out of control. Over the past few months, my colleague Matteo Cimellaro has dug into what’s happening in First Nations on the front lines of these fires — and what it’s like to be uprooted from your home when disaster strikes. What he found will be no surprise to Indigenous communities across the country: There have been more wildfire evacuations in First Nations this year than the past four years combined.
As I read his story, that number hit me. The scale of this wildfire season — and its destruction — is immense. The charts, numbers and data paint a picture of how big the climate crisis is and what it will take to both stop and adapt to it. But what really got me were the details. In his story, Matteo captures everyday people trying to protect the people and places they love — a woman who left home with nothing but a suitcase and a prized photograph. A man who waded into a river to save himself from the flames. A chief who watched the homes in her community burn to the ground.
This piece — the first in a series — reminds us what the climate crisis costs. As governments seek to slow the energy transition, hand environmentally sensitive land to powerful developers and pass off methane gas as good for the planet, those least responsible pay the highest price. Stories like these deserve to be told — they are tragic, frustrating and upsetting, but they can also galvanize us to seek a better future.
So, too, can stories of people coming together. Like the helicopter pilots who volunteered to fly food out to remote communities after B.C.’s massive floods a couple years ago — and the members of a Sikh temple who provided the meals. Or the Montreal community that built a green oasis to bring people together and help their most vulnerable neighbours stay safe in the heat. Or the activists who camped out to halt pesticide spraying in Nova Scotia forests.
Progress isn’t a straight line — it will loop and double back and race forward and tack one way or another — but it is happening. And while we undoubtedly need more of it, and fast, as Seth Klein reminded us last week, we may even be winning this fight right now.
That’s what’s on my mind as I write this, my final edition of The Weekly (though not the final edition — more on that in a moment). After three years, I am moving on from Canada’s National Observer and embarking on a new adventure. It’s a bittersweet decision, but I’m excited to remain a part of the CNO community as a subscriber. I’ve thought this week about what I’m taking away from my experience here, and it’s this: There is so much left to save. Our progress is fragile and the future is uncertain, but we can’t afford to walk away from this crisis. We need ideas, inspiration and each other. And even when our winding path to progress seems to go nowhere, the stories we tell can help to guide us and move people to action. The proof is in the streets right now.
Next Saturday, you’ll see a different newsletter in your inbox, written by several of my colleagues in the CNO newsroom. They’ll share behind-the-scenes anecdotes, big stats and quotes to remember, and the week’s top story, along with the same roundup of climate reporting you’ve come to expect here. If you’ve got anything else you’d like to see in this newsletter going forward, let my colleague Tim know at [email protected]. He may not be able to respond to all of them, but please know he reads every email that comes in.
Before I go, I want to express my gratitude to everyone who reads this newsletter. Whether you’re a steadfast supporter or a once-in-a-while browser, I appreciate you reading what I’ve written. Your kind messages, constructive feedback and thoughtful ideas have made me a better writer and editor. Every time I speak with a CNO reader, I walk away inspired.
If you’re also a CNO subscriber, thank you for investing in this newsroom. Your trust in us means the world. If you’re not a CNO subscriber yet, I encourage you to join me in becoming one — I signed up yesterday, and I look forward to reading more stories that will help us account for the past and inspire a better future.
Have a great weekend, stay safe and thank you.
— Dana Filek-Gibson
More CNO reads
Climate policy hits the Hill. Parliament is back in session next week, and Natasha Bulowski has rounded up all the climate legislation moving through the federal government this fall.
A “mutually agreed suspension of disbelief.” Alberta and the federal government have agreed to a working group on energy policy. On the agenda is a proposal to boost their climate cred by sending methane gas — a fossil fuel — overseas, John Woodside reports.
The housing debate’s true gatekeepers. If there’s one thing Canadians can agree on right now, it’s that we need more housing, columnist Max Fawcett writes. But if there’s another, it’s that it should be built somewhere other than their neighbourhood.
Feeling the heat. And so is the number of extremely hot days in Ontario, Abdul Matin Sarfraz reports. A newly released report urges the province to act fast to curb the threats a hotter planet will bring.
Disappearing trees. Three years after B.C. promised to protect old-growth forests, what’s changed? Rochelle Baker speaks with conservation groups that say these ancient ecosystems are still under threat.
All aboard the Greenwashing Express. Vancouver’s public buses are all decked out in an ad campaign touting the climate benefits of LNG, a heat-trapping fossil fuel, Marc Fawcett-Atkinson reports.