Sunday, June 11, 2023

We're Reaping What We've Sown

There's tons of news about all the smoke - so much about the smoke. But I'm finding very little information about the actual fires. We know that firefighters are coming to help from the states and from South Africa, which is fantastic, but where are the videos of planes water bombing the shit out of this mess? Why aren't the fires front page news every day? It's annoying not to be able to sit outdoors for breakfast, sure, but so many people have lost their homes. And the wildlife. It's baby season in Canada, so even if some animals were able to flee and then hope to return (?) to the charred remains of their habitat, they're leaving all their littles behind (see what happened in Australia in 2020). And can we possibly prevent this in future?

The smoke is horrible, but the fires are horrific. So far almost 4 million hectares is on fire this year, about twenty times more than the average, and it's only June!

Climate change has caused the incredibly dry conditions, for sure (no, it wasn't Trudeau lighting fires). Here's a good video looking at lightening and wind in Quebec. Lightening lit the match, but it wouldn't have started without the very dry conditions. And we're all responsible for that, not just the corporations and politicians. I'm to blame for sure, contributing to the problem by driving a car and owning a laptop that required excessive mining and heating my home with "natural" gas. It's all part of the same system that we're swimming in. Politicians act when the public sways them enough to make it clear they can act - like Nixon, of all people, passing tons of environmental legislation because people demanded it en masse.  

I do lay more blame, however, on certain politicians who have undone the environmental policies that took years to develop. Steven Harper should be in jail somehow, except everything he did was legal, because that how our democratic system works. I'm not advocating for totalitarianism, but we really need(ed) some top-down rules and enforcement around dramatically reducing our consumption of everything: heat, electricity, meat, cars (even EVs), travel, clothes, everything to just what we absolutely need. But, yup, that would really affect the bottom line.  

Some Ottawa trustees calling for an anti-protest bubble around schools to protect children from people who are coming from outside the district to protest pride month there have been called "totalitarian" by an actual news outlet (not naming or linking because I don't want their traffic here) for trying to protect children from walking through screaming adults on their way into school and from listening to the chants while they try to learn. Things are getting so weird out here!! 

Last I checked, everyone here can, and pretty much does, say anything that's on their mind. Dissenting views are welcomed and discussed, but ad hominem arguments are often ignored or not given a platform, which is not totalitarianism. I can walk down the street with or without a mask on without my government interfering, but I do get harassed by some citizens who want people to follow their rules and their rules only. And we can have regulations limiting beef farming and luxury travel without it being a totalitarian state. But it will be an economic mess affecting entire industries. Are we prepared for that?

We can have authoritative, top-down, decisions made in order to preserve our future. Trudeau did it with the 2020 gun control law after the massacre in Nova Scotia using an Order in Council. But what decisions should they make? If you were in charge of the country, what would you do to prevent these fires besides re-adding money to emergency firefighting services that Ford removed?

To preserve our future and the lives and the habitats of people and other living things, we need to turn off the tap on fossil fuels and change our eating habits, definitely. But that's not just going to affect the profits of all the billionaires; it's not just the greed of billionaires stopping it all; it's us. It's going to affect our daily lives. Most of us are completely dependent on fossil fuels for food. I don't mean driving to the grocery store, but all those planes and trucks that fill the stores will be stopped. And if the pumps shut down, how will we heat our homes in our freezing cold winters? Burn more trees?!?

It's a huge conundrum that goes beyond the current politicians and CEOs. They're not helping things much, but this needed to be fixed back in the 70s when the protests first started. Neoliberal policies didn't help either, but one thing that's really screwing us over right now is the far-right push against any governmental regulations on anything. We can't just blame the boomers for all this, either; tons of them protested for better environmental regulations. It's not all our fault, for sure, but if you're reading this on a computer, you're probably at least part of the problem. The important thing is that right now it's all of our responsibility to solve it in solidarity. We need to demand governmental regulations to reduce fossil fuel consumption, even though it will affect us and the ways we've learned to enjoy life!

We don't have the people or infrastructure for a massive shift to solar or wind yet. I have an array of solar panels on my rooftop soaking up the sunshine, but the data reader unit isn't collecting it to feed it back into the grid, like it's supposed to, and I've been trying for months to get any maintenance guy to come to my house, but they won't even call me back! It's great that they're all so busy, but there's not nearly enough of them to fix units when they break down. So either we wait until that's all up and running or we go without for a whole lot of years. 

Think about how your life would be different if the government left all the oil and gas in the ground. 

It might be time to start buying rice and dried beans in bulk and start storing them and getting used to actually eating them, and get a little garden going in the backyard or a neighbourhood plot, and insulate the shit out of your home. Read about how the Indigenous survived here for thousands of years. It's way past time to copy that model, and we are likely too many and too late for that type of actual sustainable living. 

ETA: Also consider giving to Humanitarian Coalition, an organization working to help kids already struggling with food scarcity in places suffering drought. 


Lorne said...

" We need to demand governmental regulations to reduce fossil fuel consumption, even though it will affect us and the ways we've learned to enjoy life!"

That really is the crux of the matter, isn't it, Marie? Few of us are willing to make the modifications necessary to give everyone a fighting chance in this battle. As you say, none of us are blameless, yet we seem overwhelmingly content to wring our hands when the effects of climate change come home to roost, as they have with the wildfires, but then we step into the air-conditioned luxury of our SUVs and trucks as we head to the grocery store. I often wonder how people justify the purchase of such vehicles these days.

No leader is willing to demand the sacrifices that are really necessary for us to mitigate this disaster. I suspect it will be like this to the very end. (Apologies for the bleakness here, but it's the way I feel these days.)

Marie Snyder said...

I feel just as bleak, Lorne. It would take an amazingly courageous and charismatic leader to convince everyone what must be done, and an entire comms/tech department to rewire what we think is necessary to enjoy life - maybe even get us into wanting to serve (in a church way, not a fast food way) or help tree plant or whatever instead of scroll online. It's possible, but highly unlikely. Even at this stage, I have friends planning their next travel destination. Bread and circuses right to the end.

Trailblazer said...

As long as we, Canada, are subservient to the USA in all things environmental as in laws that enable us to compete economy wise we will fail.
As long as we are subservient to the USA in all things political such as wars to capture oil deposits , we will fail.
Last but by no means least; as long as we are subservient to American culture we are fucked!
When voicing his concerns about the US government George Carlin said; They fucking own you!
The same may be aid of Canada US relations!
I have not seen or heard from a Canadian politician , since the real Trudeau, any opposition to the US 'quiet' invasion of Canada.


Marie Snyder said...

Absolutely, TB. I've seen that most clearly in education where we follow American practices even after they've been shown to fail rather than, say, Finland. We'll always be the little brother.