Last weekend I stayed in Ontario for a Green Party retreat – first face-to-face meeting since November 2019. What a joy to meet each other in three dimensions and unconstrained by the Zoom technology.
It has been a while since I was home, and John benefited from the time to be at his family farm in Ashcroft. There is always work to do, and more often than in most of Canada, life in Ashcroft is threatened with wildfires, heat domes and floods. This week it was the rapidly rising Bonaparte River that cuts through the farm.
This is from one of John’s emails this week:
“Yep- look at the latest shot, note the near-vertical rise in level (orange line), it is rising really fast. I gather Cache Creek is a real mess, some houses evacuated. So it’s already well above the historical maximum for this date. I’m going to look a little deeper at the data tonight.”
The water was rising fast. Higher than average temperatures were causing rapid snow melt at elevation. Ten communities broke temperature records for this time of year. There is still no ground cover since the 2017 Elephant Hill fire, so the rising water pulled charred remains and burnt over dried out soil. Cache Creek got the worst of it. “It’s gone from an emergency to a disaster,” Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta said here.
BC provincial alerts say things are going to get worse. As quoted by CBC, Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma said, “Unfortunately, it is likely that some of these communities are going to see conditions get worse in the immediate short term before they get better.”
Meanwhile, in Quebec the flooding has been severe. On Monday, May 1, high winds and rain brought down trees as 70,000 people lost power. In Baie-Saint-Paul, about 95 kilometres northeast of Quebec City, the flooding cut the town off from the rest of the province. Two volunteer firefighters trying to rescue two residents lost their lives as they fell into the raging river.
As Quebec and BC deal with floods, Alberta is on fire. A provincial state of emergency has been declared for Alberta, with close to 25,000 people forced from their homes by evacuation orders due to over 100 wildfires. (Forgive me for being a pedant – if you had not already noticed — but the news reports of 25,000 being evacuated brings to mind forced enemas… and only a small number of former English teachers even wince at such a sentence.)
“There’s a huge fire load in the province right now,” Christie Tucker, an information unit manager for Alberta Wildfire said, “It’s just an indication of the conditions that we’re seeing. Temperatures have been 10 to 15 degrees above normal for a little while now. We still don’t have green grass and leaves all over the province which means that the ground is very dry.”
And that is not all these last few weeks. The heat domes descended on Europe.
From The Guardian:
Heatwaves tend to be the deadliest type of extreme weather, the scientists said. Mortality data from the April Mediterranean heatwave is not yet available, but heatwaves in 2022 led to nearly 4,000 deaths in Spain and more than 1,000 deaths in Portugal. The April 26-28, 2023 heatwave broke many records for April, reaching as high as 41 degrees C.
And in Rwanda, it is mudslides that killed 115 people this week. On the dreadful anniversary of the genocide, more deaths. Torrential rain swept through northern and western Rwanda.
The coming months will be rocky. The World Meteorological Organization sees a 60% chance of a warming El Nino by end of July and an 80% chance by end of September. We have been under a cooling La Niña and still the global temperature has gone up.
“This will change the weather and climate patterns worldwide,” Wilfran Moufouma Okia, the head of the WMO’s regional climate prediction services division, told reporters in Geneva.
And yet, the UN has said the last eight years were the warmest ever recorded, despite La Niña’s cooling effect stretching over nearly half that period.
I share all this because I had to dig for it. I may have missed it, but pulling recent floods and fires into one large climate analysis is lacking. It is as though all these extreme events are disconnect. National news and Question Period are dominated by questions about the Prime Minister’s vacations and appalling toxic levels of partisanship.
It really matters that we pay attention.
I hope you find this article useful. In it John and I pull together other strands of evidence pointing to the inevitability of a rapid shift to renewable energy. It is called disruption and once it starts, even with governments trying to prop up fossil fuels, it cannot be stopped.
From Possible to Inevitable: Disruptive Options for Progress – Policy Magazine
We have time to save ourselves. And we will.
Love and hope,
The Liberal Party of Canada voted in favour yesterday at their national policy convention to this resolution:
“BE IT RESOLVED that the Liberal Party of Canada urge the Government of Canada to establish a non-partisan National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform to continue the work started in 2014.”
This is a huge step forward for the Liberal Party and for all Canadians. Green Party MP Mike Morrice’s private members’ motion for a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform very quickly reached the maximum number of joint seconders allowed (20) and according to Fair Vote Canada was directly responsible for increasing support for the resolution vote (119-64). This resolution will now be the official policy of the Liberal Party for the next eight years.
– postscript contributed by Bob Mackie