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Posted: December 29, 2013

The conflicts and challenges of ch-ch-ch-changes

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By Ian Cobb

Many people are not sad to see 2013 step aside for 2014. It was a difficult and challenging year for many, many people.

While optimism abounds for 2014, I must point out the obvious. Be prepared for more wild weather and take steps to ensure you have enough provisions to last you through a break in services and supplies, such as that experienced in the Columbia Valley during last spring’s storms and flooding.

Economic challenges will remain and our thoroughly purchased federal leaders, all crowding together in the pigpen, curly tails a-twitchin’, will kowtow and curtsy for a few more buckets of slop, while nothing really gets solved. Because the world is changing so fast the professional thinkers – those bellying up to big government troughs on behalf of puppet master dinks with Ivy League names and fours and fives at the end – are stymied, so just keep rolling out the same game plan, year after year and damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

Meanwhile our over-populated planet will continue to see more and more species lost to extinction. Our oceans and waterways, still viewed by most people worldwide as an endless dumping pit for human waste and detritus, have never been more threatened, with the north Pacific Ocean currently being poisoned by radiation from Japan.

Record volumes of ice calve away from Greenland and Antarctica, increasing ocean levels and threatening more than a billion souls with forced relocation if it continues at the pace it is going.

Severe weather patterns continue to take regions of the world by ‘surprise’ but despite the toll and heightened awareness after-the-fact, we stick to our relentless exhaustion of this world’s resources, and deny, deny, deny like the slimiest of defense lawyers, that the world’s climatic issues are not being impacted by an incrementally increasing and unsustainably massive population of humans addicted to fossil fuels.

Like the lead character in Breaking Bad, we go about our business with the best intentions, fixated on what is best for those we love, but as a species we collectively lost control of those best intentions in the frenzy of change following the Second World War. Humankind has been in a full stampede of reckless piggishness since. Most people are too busy oinking that as long as they’re okay, bugger the rest and believe their religion will spare them the fires of hell. Alas I digress eggnoggishly.

If this past year’s events haven’t been enough to make climate change deniers stop and think for a second, then you can pretty much forget about our species ever collectively doing the right thing and strive to amend our wayward path.

A Dec. 27 Smithsonian Magazine article outlines six things we learned about climate change in 2013 and, not surprisingly, we (the royal we – the species homo sapien) didn’t learn anything positive.

Yes, the climate situation remains all doom and gloom.

And while many humans continue to find excuses for their out-of-control abuse of natural resources, thinking their world too enormous to be tampered with by mere mortals, with greater forces at work, the facts continue to smash us all in the face.

philippines-typhoon-haiyan“The strongest typhoon ever to make landfall—with winds exceeding 190 miles per hour—hit the Philippines, killing at least 6,109 people. While it’s impossible to link that one specific event to climate change, scientists agree that climate change will make particularly intense storms more common. Elsewhere, in 2013 we saw Brazil’s worst drought ever, Australia’s hottest summer on record, all-time heat records set in Austria and Shanghai, and what even the National Weather Service called a “biblical” flood in Colorado,” the Smithsonian piece notes.

Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett tours Hosmer during flooding last June. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW
Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett tours Hosmer during flooding last June. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

In the East Kootenay we experienced some terrible flooding, with the Elk River giving Elkford a moist nudge, Hosmer a smack and Fernie a fright, as well as BC Hydro some fits at Elko.

Wasa Lake bloated for a second year in a row and waterways in the Fairmont Hot Springs area went bat-farting crazy for a week, and Mark Creek raged through Kimberley and Marysville.

The Elk River charges below the highway bridge at Elkford. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW
The Elk River charges below the highway bridge at Elkford. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

The force of water moving through the Kootenay and Elk Rivers was awesome. The volume of timber moving downstream was something I have never observed before and the number of backcountry drainages rendered inaccessible from washouts and flooding was record setting.

It was the second year in a row we experienced flooding in the often semi-arid East Kootenay.

There seems to be an increase of more intense weather-related events in our region and neighbouring areas. Just consider the insanity Southern Alberta experienced this past year.

Landscape change is a given in geologic history. It is the nature of our living world. The world experiences all sorts of climatic changes due to natural and cosmic causes.

There is no doubt those things cause great changes – but to deny the fact that humankind is also altering this world at an ever more alarming speed is disturbing; freakishly so.

I find it hilarious to hear someone from ‘safe and secure and relatively clean’ Canada or America spit venom when they deny man’s role in climate change.

Greater Manila. By Carrie Schafer/Through My Eyes Photography
Greater Manila. By Carrie Schafer/Through My Eyes Photography

Take a trip to most of the rest of the world and check out the environment. Check out the mind-boggling pollution evident in the Third World. The surgical mask business has exploded in the last decade as hundreds of millions of people now refuse to venture outdoors without their breathing passages protected by filters. In many cases it is paranoia about disease but it is also to guard against carcinogens and other nasty things invading their bodies.

And that isn’t Mother Earth’s doing. It’s the vicious parasite that infected it a few million years after the Chicxulub asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs; we the people.

But the deniers deny like the haters hate and the cycle of idiocy winds tighter and tighter, in the name of economy, in the name of greed – all done with the flourish of a petulant child expecting and demanding their way.

The Smithsonian notes, “An overwhelming majority of scientists agree that human activities are changing the climate. Healthy disagreement is a key element of any science—a mechanism that drives the search for new and ever-more-accurate hypotheses. But human-driven climate change, it turns out, is a particularly well-established and broadly-accepted idea.

A recent survey of every scientific study published between 1991 and 2012 that included either the phrase “global climate change” or “global warming” underscored this point. In total, of the 11,944 studies the researchers found, 97.1 percent supported the idea that humans are changing the climate, and when the authors of these studies were contacted by the researchers, 97.2 percent of them explicitly endorsed the idea.”

Yet most ‘democratic’ societies in the world continue to operate from a climate change denial stance – because we refuse to find the necessary societal operational changes needed to help curb climate change. We can’t get our heads removed from our behinds long enough to stand together globally as is needed to correct our greatest problem.

What kinds of disasters await us in 2014?

What new weather records will be broken? What parts of the world will be wiped away by winds or waves? What kind of droughts will strike? Fires and carnage will strike – where? Record numbers of earthquakes have been recorded in the Yellowstone Caldera. Perhaps Mother Earth wishes to show the parasites she is still in charge and wants to give them a good dose of primordial retrieval.

While we watch these things unfold on television, consuming our over-packaged goods with expanding debt loads, our ocean levels rise, their environs ever-more poisoned by pollutants; a beautifully ugly simile.

The Greater Toronto area, one of the most affluent cities in the world in one of its most affluent nations, has been without power in some areas up to eight days since an ice storm hit it. Hands up, Toronto, who among you living there thought such a thing could happen?

The great changes that are coming will make history. Some will force wars and conflict, create mutations of disease and virus and billions of lives are at risk.

But hey, what does it matter as long as Breaking Bad re-runs are on and the maroons are distracted by Duck Dynasty?

And then we profess to love our children and grandchildren and communities.

What an oddly conflicted species we are.

Good luck in 2014!

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