Tonight, I learned that smoke suppresses rainfall. How ironic is that? (Scientific American)
All day I have been living under a smoke-filled sky. I first noticed it this morning when I saw that the rising sun was orange. I knew from past experience that this meant the smoke from western wildfires was now over my city. Sadly, this is not the first year I have seen this, but this year is the worst.
I am sad. I am mad. I am frustrated. The effects on me are minimal, but my sense of bewilderment about the lack of urgency in our politicians is huge. Tonight I learned that a second town in British Columbia has been destroyed by fire. The first, Lytton, was lost In July. Today the town of Monte Lake was erased. Lives and houses and stores and restaurants and businesses. Gone.
And yet, as I read the news, I see next to nothing about climate change. You know it is happening. I know it is happening, Our neighbours know it is happening. But, apparently, our local, regional, and federal politicians don’t. Or, if they do, they are not making it a priority. They are busy doing things that are important, and sometimes essential, but climate issues do not seem to be among the urgent items on the agenda.
Worldwide, we see floods, droughts, and oceanside buildings falling off of cliffs. It is very dramatic. Why aren’t our politicians connecting the dots? And, why are we looking to them for solutions? Perhaps our political systems are the problem. So long as we elect representatives for a limited number of years, that is all they will care about. In fact, they will only care for the first 50% of those years. For the rest, they will be campaigning for reelection. They simply do not have a long-term focus. No-one seems to have a combination of a ten-year plan, a global perception, and power.
For decades I have been aware of and supportive of the efforts of climate activists, but like most people I assumed that the people who had power would deal with it. I was wrong. They have pushed it aside for so long that we have gone beyond the tipping point. We are now experiencing the effects that we had been warned about.
I always assumed, too, that a good steady rainfall would put out wildfires. That assumption depends on there being rainfall. And, the rainfall would need to be heavy and lengthy. In Alberta, where I live, we were promised rain today but that turned out to be about five or ten rain drops on my window while there are 277 active fires in British Columbia to the west.
This year in British Columbia, there have been 1,168 wildfires, and 338,97 hectares have burned. In Alberta, there have been 1,057 fires this year, and 52,360 hectares have burned.
So, if rainfall can’t solve the fire problem, and all the levees cannot stop the problem of the sea rising, and the politicians don’t see any of this as their problem, what can we do? Perhaps the solution is already presenting itself. People migrate. They migrate for all sorts of reasons, but the quest for habitable land is high on the list of reasons. If anything can get politicians motivated it is migrants.
We are already seeing the effects of climate change on agrarian communities and the loss of fish and wildlife on people who are dependent on hunting and fishing. Some of those folks are giving up and moving away from their homes. They are hoping for sustenance away from drought-ridden farms and away from their loss of food sources. They are moving to cities.
If they choose Edmonton, they will find it hard to acquire affordable housing. They will also find it difficult to get a job. What they will find, though, is a smoke-filled sky. Those apocalypse movies got a lot wrong, but one thing they did get right: the sun is orange.