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Posted: September 13, 2020

Our species has a job to do and better get to it soon

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

So, you don’t believe in climate change. You, of course are entitled to your opinions, but if you take a look around, you might notice the world is burning up.

And that’s kinda scary.

Some of you may have noticed last Friday the billowing cloud of smoke that blew up northwest of Cranbrook in the afternoon and looked for all intents and purposes like a nuclear mushroom cloud. Fortunately, it wasn’t that, but it was wood smoke from the Doctor Creek wildfire that crews have been battling for almost a month and is still out of control. Luckily no one lives near the blaze and there’s been no deaths or injuries.

In a straight line, Doctor Creek northwest of Skookumchuck is about 90 km from us and no threat here but think back to the Lamb Creek wildfire in 2017 which did threaten us and resulted in evacuation orders being issued for Moyie and the small settlement surrounding Monroe Lake. That’s pretty damn close and not very long ago. And look at the fire storms sweeping the US west coast from Washington to California killing more than a dozen.

So, we may be far from the beaten track in the East Kootenay, but we’re not immune to what’s going on in the world and what’s going on is that hundreds, if not thousands of people are losing their lives in wildfires and fires that are being deliberately set to clear land for industrial agriculture and mining in the Amazon Basin and elsewhere.

Not only this, but natural wildfires are springing up in places where they’ve never happened before like the Taiga forests in the Canadian Arctic as well as Siberia, Scandinavia and Alaska. Those fires throw tons of carbon dioxide into an atmosphere that’s already saturated with carbon and greenhouse gases. Add to this, millions more tons of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere every summer from the thawing tundra taking place in the circumpolar Arctic and the world’s atmosphere can only do one thing – get warmer! And that imperils us all.

So, in these perilous circumstances, what does a person do? Especially when we’re in the middle of a worldwide health pandemic! As single individuals, we can’t influence the climate on a global level. But millions of us acting together could surely do something?

Determining what that elusive “something” is has got to be the greatest challenge denizens of our planet face.

Here’s what I’ve determined to be my “something,” spreading the word. I’ve learned a lot about the environment and climate change since I first read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in high school and had my eyes opened to the millions of ways modern industrial civilization is damaging our planet and may ultimately destroy it as a home for most living species.]

There’s no one answer. But surely most of us realize now that man’s footprint on the planet has grown far too large and will destroy us all if we let it grow like a cancer. Why do you think thousands of people are signing up with Elon Musk to colonize Mars and leave the Earth? They’ve given up on our bright blue planet and want to flee to a barren hunk of rock far from the sun that doesn’t even have an oxygen filled atmosphere like ours.

That’s crazy and defeatist.

Instead of that dangerous rabbit hole, I want to stay here on Gaia and fight to save our endangered planet by learning to reject mindless materialism and how to live lighter on the land and encourage others to do the same. We’ve got a badly battered green planet in this remote corner of the universe. I say let’s fight and fix it instead of running away.

Lead image: Wildfire smoke from the US west coast fires as seen from space. Image is from three days ago. earthobservatory.nasa.gov photo

– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist who believes not all is lost — yet.


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