Fire and Fury (and smoke)… like the world has never seen.
We’ve all heard the expression “business as usual”. However, considering current world politics I believe that many of us will admit that we live in unusual times. Picasso illustrates it well. Life is such a paradox.
I imagine Tomas Merton calling out.
“Take thought, man, tonight when it is dark, when it is raining. Take thought of the game you have forgotten. You are a child of a great and peaceful race. You are son of an unutterable fable. You were discovered on a mild mountain. You have come up of the godlike ocean… Take thought, man, tonight. Do this. do this. Recover your original name.”
(from Raids on the Unspeakable)
Recently I have kept a low blogging profile – partly from lack of initiative – more importantly, to focus on work and gardening as well as personal reflection and home improvement.
Kayakers on Northern Vancouver Island
Here in British Columbia our recent provincial election of May 7th brought an amazing progressive shift. The Green Party won three seats and now holds the balance of power in the BC legislative assembly, in an agreement made with the newly elected New Democratic Party. This alliance holds a one vote margin over the Liberal party.
The close election required 3 weeks of re-counts and one month of political negotiations before the “business oriented” Liberal Party was defeated in a vote of non-confidence on June 30, after almost 16 years in power. The Liberals do deserve parting credit for instituting the progressive British Columbia Carbon Tax Shift in 2008, the first jurisdiction in North America to do so. In this plan the Carbon fee charged on most fossil fuel transactions is then re-disbursed via tax credits – a sizable portion to lower income people. However, they dropped the ball in support of this important initiative, and then began to support various mega-projects like Site C damn on the Peace River and Liquefied Natural Gas development.
The current leader of the BC Green Party, Andrew Weaver, was originally elected in 2012. He is a well known climate scientist and a past lead author for the IPCC, the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change. He and his caucus is creating a big shift in the body politic and there’s hope it will spread.
Speaking of climate change, British Columbia experienced a record breaking heat wave a couple weeks ago. Coupled with extensive and growing wild fires since early April, the province is experiencing the worse fire season ever. Today it’s effected 894,000 hectares and fire crews have now reached day 100. Many of these emergency teams worked on the BC spring flooding immediately prior to the fires.
Smoke on the lake comes from 100’s of miles away.
Tens of thousands of people and livestock have been evacuated and many people in BC and nearby American states are experiencing health debilitating effects from the smoke.
Nasa Satellite Image – July 31, 2017 – Wildfire Smoke over British Columbia
The added financial burden is immense. A small example is that wood prices have skyrocketed as numerous mills have shut down due to the fires. This is one of many costs not factored into the true price of burning fossil fuel.
Recently I finished a novel, Convenient Mistruths, by Geoffry Strong. He’s a local atmospheric scientist who recently came to our local library for a reading. Strong sets the plot of his novel in 2020 and the main setting is the Canadian North. Large scale Arctic drilling and rapidly melting perma-frost is occurring.
Amidst murder and intrigue, the author adeptly weaves into the story the science on climate change, meteorology and changing weather patterns as well as their social and ecological impacts. The novel’s Prologue includes a short vignette about a migrant family from Syria. It makes clear his family lost it’s home drought and desertification caused largely by global warming. Civil war is a mere side effect.
The main antagonist of the novel is a few ardent American climate change denialists – funded by Big Oil of course. The main protagonist is a Canadian law student who is spending the summer gathering testimony in the north. She has been hired by a large construction company to outline the legal ramifications of a proposed oil pipeline.
Meanwhile, a Russian Climate Scientist working in Siberia discovers that methane readings are going off-the-scale. Methane is a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent to global warming than Carbon Dioxide. An international crises ensues. Climate scientists and world leaders are left stunned. The urgency of runaway climate change stares humanity in the face.
Wow! Thumbs up to the author. This novel made me think about my own personal dependency on fossil fuel. Also, we use firewood to heat some of our home and water, so a lot of our energy requirements (including driving and flying) result in significant Carbon emissions.
Replacing our 24 year old woodstove
The novel also made me see that in general, poorer people have a small carbon footprint – they can’t afford many of the luxuries derived from my fossil fuel dependency. And yet, many who are downcast pay for climate change with their lives.
Charcoal drawing in Ottawa Art Gallery – artist unknown
We must all work diligently to reduce our own carbon footprints. As a personal example, how do I connect my fuel addiction to my many other faults – my arrogance, my quick judgements, my over eagerness, my heavy heart? And this is the tip of the ice berg. I need to match my action with my words – and to do this with genuine love and faith.
In the closing lines of his 2011 book, Generation Us: The Challenge of Global Warming, Andrew Weaver says:
“It’s time to recognize global warming for what it is: the most self-empowering issue we will ever face. Every consumer of energy is part of the problem. Every person is therefore part of the solution. We are entering an age of creativity and innovation unlike any modern society has experienced before. Rather than fearing this change, we need to embrace it.”
In the paradox of it all I recall the words of Thomas Merton:
”I remain aghast at our own weakness, our own poverty, our evasions, our infidelity, our hesitancy…. In such a condition there is no use in forcing the issue. Great patience and humility are needed, and humble prayer for light, courage and strength.”
Photo below by Thomas Merton 1968 – Hut in the Himalaya’s
In peace – Bruce