That is the word being used to describe the wildfires destroying Fort McMurray. There’s a tragedy underway in that northern city and it is unprecedented. “The largest insurance claim in Canadian history is in the making.”
I feel for those people. Disaster is always unfair and devastating on a personal level as well as at the perceived bigger picture level portrayed by the pictures and the reporting. They figure to lose $9 billion dollars in infrastructure if this fire continues but, of course, no one person loses that. Single people and families lose all that they have instead. Corporate loss is insured. Personal devastation is the real story.
Sadly, I am not so sure we should be surprised. Surprised that it was Fort Mac, perhaps. But ‘global’ and ‘horrific’ and ‘devastating’ are words we have come to know more frequently these past few decades. From terrorism, to mass migrations, from ice sheet disappearance to forest ‘bug’ infestation. We have had Katrina, we have had significant flooding all over, we have experienced Fukishima and the Tsunami of Sumatra in 2004. China is polluted. Droughts are evident and imminent everywhere. Wildfires are now burning where snow used to be still melting. The planet is acting up.
Up here, the planet may NOT have dealt us a devastating blow but there are some weird things to report. Spring came at least six weeks early. We hit 29 degrees Celsius a few weeks back in April. We have had a Red tide in effect for the last few weeks and that NEVER used to happen so early or for so long. The prawns came and went in record time. Our local climate has changed. Maybe NOT for good. Maybe NOT for long. But it HAS changed. And, of course, the last fifteen years have been the hottest on record worldwide.
How does climate change show up for urbanites? More hot days. More sun? Maybe more AC installations? One of my friends has spent hundreds maybe thousands of dollars on his lawn, first because the lawn was infested with bugs and then because of tighter watering restrictions in his municipality required him to install a complicated and expensive water metering system. It’s an issue but NOT a huge one. The city is somewhat less sensitive to the environment even if the people are not.
It all reminds me of the frog in the pot of water. If you drop a frog in a pot of hot water, it jumps out. But if you put him in a pot of cold water and heat it, he will sit there and cook.
It shouldn’t remind me of that story because the frog had a choice. He exercised that choice when he could feel the problem clearly but he failed to exercise that choice when the problem sneaked up on him. But he had one. When the whole world heats up, you might know it, you might not. But do you have a choice?
If the north is burning up, the deserts are expanding, the lower latitudes disgorging millions of refugees and nowhere seems immune, do you have a choice as to where to live, thrive and survive?