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GINTA — We need to ask ourselves why it’s so hot

It's not too late to save the forest. (Daniela Ginta photo)

It’s not too late to save the forest. (Daniela Ginta photo)

Daniela Ginta writes for The Armchair Mayor on Fridays.

COLUMN — Last Sunday we drove to Vancouver and, after what felt like a crazy rally on the Coquihalla, and after being part of a slow moving car caterpillar (think 10k per hour over a fair distance), we were finally greeted by the big city. Except that we could not see it.

colheds-Gintahed1Everything was enveloped in smoke. Vancouver never looked so milky white and lost as it did that day. We drove to Locarno beach to meet family and friends and could see nothing past some ghostly ships barely visible through the ash-loaded air. Christmas in July, the sad kind.

The sun, an orange-red round pill, got swallowed by the smoky skies half an hour after we got there. The next morning the car smelled like smoke and so did our clothes. Our Vancouver people kept shaking their heads. ‘This has not happened here… not like this…’

The news that poured in that morning brought some more chagrin. British Columbia was well above the average number of 320 fires per year at an alarming 850. Alaska had 391 fires and while that is still on track according to the Alaska Fire Service, the danger lies with the melting of the permafrost, which could happen given the overall increased temperatures. The melting of permafrost would release a lot of carbon in the atmosphere which accelerates climate change. A really bad joke if it wasn’t real. Fingers crossed for the permafrost everyone.

As of now, the B.C. Wildfire Service has responded to 941 fires, according to an early report by the AM News.

It is hot and the country is burning. As much as people want to look like they can be troopers and continue to do their thing while the air quality decreases – people were running, cycling and playing soccer in Vancouver – we each have to look past the personal level of comfort and seek the big picture.

I can breathe, and I can even run if I have to, yet my asthma-prone son makes me wonder about so many people who have it much, much worse when it comes to breathing and quality of life in general. Pollution was, as of last year, classified by WHO as carcinogenic to humans.

If the forests are burning, it is not just the bad smell and temporary blurry horizons that we have to worry about but the mad expansion of fires that refuse to be contained, the increased volume of water that has to be used to help put out the raging flames and the ever increased risk of more fires (19 reported over one day!)

While we do not have a serious water problem, not yet anyway, restricting the use of anything that is not related to need (green lawns are not a need!) should become a priority as the summer is still underway and there is much heat to battle still.

The big picture includes so much more than fire and water, though. It requires us to reassess the destructive reliance on fossil fuels, which is bad news on many levels. Aside from a yearly increase in cars on the roads, the demand for goods in general, much of which are plastic – some so useless it hurts – increases with every national holiday and/or change of season.

Dollar stores report increased sales and the oceans becomes the liquid grave not only for the plastic itself but also for the creatures that eat it. It is worth mentioning that as far as food chains go, we are at the top of it so yes, even the finest porcelain plates will contain some plastic at the rate we’re going.

And the big picture is not even half painted. The gist of it all is that everything is connected to everything else. That is bad news, but also good.

The good news is that there is still time. Many country leaders – hopefully Canada will follow in those steps soon – are urging for action on climate change and more and more people can see for themselves that things are shifting in the wrong direction.

Turning off lights, recycling or reducing water use might seem too insignificant to bother at an individual scale, but the impact adds up because of the mind shift that the small daily actions and awareness create in each of us.

We cannot afford not to be mindful. Not anymore. We can no longer pretend or afford not to see the (burning) forests for the trees. It’s all the same landscape and we are all part of it, whether we accept or deny climate change.

I often tell my sons that once a mistake has been made there is no reason to just look at it and shake our heads but get something good out of it, even when that seems like the farthest possibility.

We have made mistakes, and some big enough to make us look downright irresponsible (how else can one define the on-going extinction process humans have caused in the last 70 years or so, or the possibility of drilling on the Arctic, or build pipelines when risks are too high) but all is not lost. All it takes is to open our eyes and see. And if we cannot see or breathe past the smoke, we have to seek action, finding our way past denial and into hope.

Mahatma Gandhi once said ‘Your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.’ What’s ours going to be? There is still time to choose.

Daniela Ginta is a mother, scientist, writer and blogger. She can be reached at daniela.ginta@gmail.com, or through her blog at http://www.thinkofclouds.com.

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About Mel Rothenburger (6883 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on GINTA — We need to ask ourselves why it’s so hot

  1. Much like lemmings, we rush, virtually unconsciously, and certainly unconscionably, toward our own inevitable, and highly visible conclusion. Evolution’s greatest experiment – the big brain – is obviously a dismal failure, and the earth will probably end up with some other, less destructive, species to have a go. Homo Sapiens, or Irrational Man?
    We have the smarts, but we lack the right values.

  2. The example of how to boil a frog always comes to mind when I read this sort of article. Elon Musk said what we’re doing is essentially an incredibly stupid science experiment. He’s right, of course. At this point there isn’t even any disagreement in the science community about whether climate change exists. The remaining questions are the details of how quickly, how bad, and how recoverable. But in spite of the block lettering on the wall, our so-called ‘leaders’ have done exactly nothing to confront the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced as a species. Just the opposite in fact. What is the end goal of any of the pipeline projects currently embroiled in disputes? The transport of hydrocarbons with the end goal (and there is no other) of converting them into yet more carbon dioxide. How smart is that??

    It’s evidently more important to make a dollar today and get elected tomorrow than be alive next week. What other inference can be taken from their inaction and complete ignorance on the subject?

  3. lee kenney // July 10, 2015 at 7:47 AM // Reply

    This is a present from a small distant world, a token of our sounds, our science ,our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so that we may live in yours . We sent that wish via Voyager , I think of your columns like that message,Thanks . Good planets are hard to find , Laudato Si .

  4. Sean McGuinness // July 10, 2015 at 7:42 AM // Reply

    The problem is what governments don’t do. If you think the situation in BC is bad, look at California. They’ve only just started restricting water consumption. But the writing was on the walls years ago. Let us not forget what the Harper government has not done. They have decided the raising the carbon tax and imposing restrictions on oil companies is too risky for their economic well-being. So they have done almost nothing. Is this what we value most, brass in pocket?

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