A couple of weeks ago, 2018 was said to be the fifth-worst season for forest fires in British Columbia history. A week ago that had bumped up to third-worst. Now 2018 is second only to 2017 and we've got a good stretch of forest fire season still ahead.
Writing in The Tyee, Guy Dauncey excoriates the Horgan NDP government for its timid response to the growing wildfire catastrophe.
Our forests are burning, not just in B.C. and California but also in Russia, Europe, and even in the Arctic Circle. A persistent heat wave has been breaking all weather records in Canada, the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Torrential downpours and mudslides have been killing people. Flooding has inundated cities. Some cities in India, Pakistan and the Middle East have been having temperatures as high as 50 C, the level at which “human cells start to cook, blood thickens, muscles lock around the lungs and the brain is choked of oxygen.” A report published in Nature this month found that the warming Arctic is slowing the circulation of the jet stream, causing prolonged weather patterns and making the weather less able to moderate itself. These things will all become common, unless we get an urgent grip on what’s happening.
This is crazy. Another study published this month found that we are pushing our planet toward an irreversible “Hothouse Earth,” with catastrophic warming of 5 C or more causing an eventual long-term sea level rise (after many hundred years) of up to 70 metres. Its authors warn us that we may be much closer to the point-of-no-return than most people realize. It suggests that because of numerous feedback factors, the path to catastrophic climate collapse is more like a cliff, and once you cross it, it triggers a rockslide that will quickly bring ruin. Large areas of B.C.’s Lower Mainland are less than three metres above sea level.Victoria's dereliction of duty. Does this sound familiar?
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a senior advisor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union, warned in the foreword to the new Australian report What Lies Beneath: The Understatement of Existential Climate Risk, “Climate change is now reaching the end-game, where very soon humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences.”
So what unprecedented action is the B.C. government proposing to address the advancing catastrophe? It feels a bit like “punt it into the future and let the next generation sort it out,” with goals of reducing emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050, but without annual goals or carbon budgets or the needed policies. Our NDP MLAs should be embarrassed. Our Green Party MLAs should be screaming from the legislature rooftops. It’s just not good enough. (I don’t expect the Liberal MLAs to contribute much; they have never seemed to understand the issue.)Dauncey concludes his article with 12 steps the British Columbia government (all Canadian governments for that matter) can and should implement if we're to have some chance of averting the worst of climate change. Follow the link to read them if you like. I won't dwell on them here because, while I think his ideas are sound, I believe the public is not prepared to change their ways, including sacrifice, that reversing course would entail and, without a clamoring public forcing their hand, no politician will try to lead from the front on climate change.