Let’s Talk About The Weather
When Covid 19 hit, the media reports, public health advisories and conversations with our peers were not confined to discussing the symptoms of breathlessness, fever, and loss of smell. Instead we talked about the virus that was causing the symptoms. We practiced social distancing and developed vaccines to limit its spread.
The extreme heat sweeping across British Columbia this week is – like Covid – disrupting our lives, putting the elderly at risk, and disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable. With fire season just beginning, we know things are likely to get worse.
But let’s be clear. This heat is just a symptom. Climate change is the cause. And the cause is what we should be talking about.
Staying hydrated and seeking out shade is important – but we’re not going to get far if we only focus on the symptoms. Burying our heads in an air-conditioned room is just going to make the problem worse.
Climate change models have consistently predicted longer and more intense heatwaves, as are being experienced today across BC and the Pacific Northwest. It’s so hot because we’ve been throwing blankets of greenhouse gas over the earth – and it’s going to keep getting hotter until we stop putting those blankets on (by cutting our emissions) and start taking some of them off (by supporting forests and ecosystems that take carbon out of the atmosphere).
Weather is always a topic of conversation. This week, make those conversation matter. With your family and friends, with your colleagues and your elected officials, go beyond the mere fact of the heat. Canada is the only G7 country that has not yet reduced emissions, and in 2020-21 the BC government gave over a billion dollars in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. That needs change. So when you talk about the weather, talk about the causes and solutions. Only immediate concrete actions to address climate change by phasing out fossil fuels and protecting natural ecosystems will stabilize our climate.
Ruth Kamnitzer (Kimberley, BC)