At this time of writing there are currently 77 wildfires burning in Alberta. Half of those are out of control. And, at this very minute, they are preparing to evacuate the small community of Edson in the west central corner of the province.
Altogether, across the country there are 400 fires burning. Fortunately, heavy rains brought relief to those in the eastern provinces, but Quebec remains in serious trouble.
And here, close to home, fires threaten Saamba K’e, forcing the community to evacuate. While the 45 firefighters there are doing their best with the resources, they have to contain that blaze; shifting winds and drought conditions make containment a near impossibility.
Fires have also started in northern B.C. in this — what appears to be the worst fire season ever recorded in our history. Sadly, the season hasn’t even started.
Last week, pictures of smoke-filled skies over some American states blanketed our news and social media with lead politicians, including the U.S. president himself, advising people to limit their exposure to smoke and curtail outdoor activities. Blackened air from a country on fire is not the kind of international reputation that most Canadians were hoping for.
In the meantime, 700 fighters have arrived from various countries including South Africa, New Zealand and the United States as part of an effort to help bring these fires under control. And now we learn that 70 per cent of those out battling the fires are volunteers — people putting everything on the line to save us and what we have.
Welcome to climate change and the new abnormal norm.
Before the election, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said there was no way she was going to let Ottawa tell her government what to do, especially when it came to limiting oil and gas development and capping emissions. In a province which has based its economic survival on an industry that is killing us, breaking the fossil fuel addiction and transitioning to something that might help us just seems to be too hard.
However, when the fires were at their worst a few weeks ago, Smith went to Ottawa pleading for help to extinguish the very fires the resource sector has caused in Alberta, throughout Canada and even the world.
Like any addiction, those who are dependent on the substance are blind to its consequences even if it’s killing them. Maybe it’s time for Canadians to stop enabling.
Once in office, Smith reiterated her hardline stance oblivious to the impacts this addiction is having. If she wanted to do something helpful for her people and others, Smith would begin the process of transitioning that province off fossil fuels and into green energy.
But it appears the United Conservative Party is too short sighted for that, not mentioning the greed and selfishness that accompanies this endless thirst for black gold. They are not just killing themselves with the conditions they’re contributing to, they’re hurting everyone and every generation to come.
Smoke, fire and drought do not recognize provincial or international boundaries. They will wreak havoc and destroy any thing anywhere. They mock our regulations and transboundary agreements. The bottom line is that Mother Nature holds the cards, not us. We either start listening or we are all doomed.
Again comes the question: what are we leaving our children or are we so caught up in this dysfunctional lifestyle that leaving something for them at all is no longer a consideration?
The new normal climate change has created is completely abnormal and will stay that way until we all take immediate steps to reduce our demand for fossil fuels. This is where we need to start if we really want to bring these fires under control. Everything else is a bandaid.
Smith needs to open her eyes and do her part as do all of us. We know with the chaos all around, time and action are of the essence.