It’s been a nice reprieve, but after a two-year stretch of temperate weather and a relatively low risk of wildfires, B.C. is looking down the barrel of what may well be the hottest, driest – and fieriest – summer on record for this part of the world. Or maybe not – it all depends on who you ask.
The blistering heat wave that followed on the heels of a typically cool, wet early June is finished wreaking havoc on the Lower Mainland for now, but not before exposing some serious deficiencies in our ability to deal with intense heat.
By early July, this massive heat dome was still baking the Interior of the province as it moved east across the Prairies, with lightning strikes and suspected human activity sparking multiple blazes along the way. This includes the devastating fire that consumed the village of Lytton and claimed at least two lives.
While some prognosticators warn that the mercury will continue to climb through the summer with very little rainfall to offset it, while the Old Farmer’s Almanac, indicates that last week’s extreme weather was a one-off and the rest of the summer will be cool and damp. Does it really matter?
We are on a steady march now toward a climate-change tipping point and all the devastation that implies.
A mild summer or two isn’t going to fix that.
Is it too late to turn back the clock and undo the damage, or at least stop it getting worse?
Climate scientists at NASA note that in the extremely unlikely event that greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans ceased today, the Earth would continue to warm for several more decades.
But there is still a chance “to avoid or limit some of the worst effects of climate change,” the same scientists say.
So, yes. It does still matter.
It’s not a case of prepare for the worst and hope for the best. It’s time to prepare for the worst while stepping up our efforts to mitigate what the worst will be.
The trick, as ever, is finding the collective will to change our behaviour enough to matter.
Sadly, we’re not holding our breath, despite what we all witnessed last week.