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EDITORIAL – Sorry, pessimists, but this is not the ‘new normal’

Downtown Kamloops under smoke. (Image: File photo, Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

OVERLANDERS DAY was supposed to draw thousands to McDonald Park on Sunday but it was cancelled at the last moment due to wildfire smoke. It’s a bummer but it was the responsible thing to do.

It’s not the first event to fall victim to the wildfires. Last year, for example, the annual Kamloops Marathon was called off.

Festivals and summer sports events last year and this year have taken a kicking throughout the province and south of the border. During the past few days, several airline flights were cancelled, too.

This is, according to many, the new normal and we should just get used to it. Even a report commissioned by the provincial government on the 2017 wildfire season was titled “Addressing the New Normal.”

If we accept this “new normal” mantra, we’re saying that summer after summer will be marked with massive wildfires, that even if they don’t burn where we live, the smoke will get us.

Mornings and afternoons will feel and look like the moors in the Hound of the Baskervilles as the sun is blocked by a mass of particulates. N95 masks will be the order of the day, every day.

I have a different opinion. Accepting “the new normal” is giving up. It means we’ve thrown in the towel on climate change, on better wildfire control, and that all our summers from here on in will be the same.

With that kind of thinking, we may as well shut down the province every July and August, bolt our doors and stay inside.

But as this fire season was getting underway, I listened to a senior wildfire official who rejected the new-normal scenario. Yes, he said, there will be times when we have two or three bad years in a row, but this is not the way it will always be.

Next year might be entirely different, with clear skies, clean air and everything in balance, especially if we help make it that way. I’m holding on to that.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

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About Mel Rothenburger (6244 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.

9 Comments on EDITORIAL – Sorry, pessimists, but this is not the ‘new normal’

  1. Jennie Stadnichuk // August 20, 2018 at 1:36 PM // Reply

    I don’t want to accept that this “is the new normal” but living in Kamloops all of my life (75) with only the last couple of years experiencing visibility altering smoke suggests that the norm has definitely changed. Whether “new normal” defines it, or not, we need to get on stopping our polluting ways as well as start lobbying our Federal and Provincial governments to stop building new pipelines and to put significant effort into alternative energy projects. This would include encouraging smaller vehicles with lower pollution as well as tax incentives for purchases of non gas using cars. The technology is there! Lobby Justin Trudeau and his foolhardy waste of taxpayer money buying the dangerous Kinder Morgan pipeline into Burnaby. Have we all made big efforts to both reduce our personal climate damaging lifestyles AND lobbying ALL governments? I live in hope that another protest group sets up camp in a different location (Camp Cloud having been dismantled) and that the First Nations court case is successful at stopping it!

  2. Randy Sunderman // August 20, 2018 at 11:40 AM // Reply

    Prior to this year, 3
    of the worse fire years on record have occurred in the past ten years. This will make 4. Pretending we don’t have a problem only makes matters worse.

  3. I sure hope these editorials are not the new normal as the writers have a ruthless reputation you know and that in fact is not a new normal.

  4. Sean McGuinness // August 20, 2018 at 8:11 AM // Reply

    Trying to believe that next year things will go back to being like they used to be is just ignoring the facts. Last year wast the worst wildfire season in BC’s history. This year will be something like the third worst. The Mendocino fire complex is the biggest in California’s history. The floods in Kerala India are the worst in 100 years. And the hurricane season is just about to begin …
    The list of non-normal events just piles up. The world’s scientific community has been telling us for years that climate change is real, but once again, when the smoke clears and weather cools,
    we’ll start talking about expanding oil pipelines.

    • Cynthia Friedman // August 20, 2018 at 10:48 AM // Reply

      Totally agree with Sean here (and others). But realizing where we are in the Anthropocene (the imminent decline) is not giving up; hopefully, it is waking up. If only the peoples of the world would stop fighting each other and engage the real enemy – climate change – then we would be on to something.

      Personally, I have given up. I do think we are past the point of no return; the warming feedback is escalating. We lose Arctic ice, we lose the ability to cool, we lose more polar ice, etc. Things are bad, Mel.

  5. I am not sure these “editorials” are to be considered “the new normal” either, I sure hope not. Because if we dismiss this and recent dismal summers due to the unprecedented numbers and intensity of forest fires as only, and I quote “… two or three bad years in a row, but this is not the way it will always be.” then we are dismissing the inconfutabile evidence humans are wrecking it!

  6. Quick and brutal punishment for the low life caught staring fires in Penticton yesterday. Many of these fires were intentionally set by people who should not be allowed to run free.

  7. Earth Day , 1971 , Walt Kelly did a poster “We have met the enemy and he is us ” ! This pale blue dot is all we got, wilful blindness is us, we are the Anthropocene ! Look apon our works and despair !

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