My heart goes out to the people of Lytton and surrounding area. To the Nlaka’pamux Nation communities. To the firefighters and first responders. As of July 7, 2021, there are over 200 wildfires burning in British Columbia, Canada. These come after record high temperatures (in the high 40s C- or 110s F) which have helped to launch an early fire season that promises to be long and intense. To use a word that is over-used these days — it is “unprecedented” (in British Columbia at least!) Unprecedented but not unpredicted, nor unexpected.
Greta Thunberg has been screaming “Our house is on fire!” to all who will listen. And so too, have countless activists, youth, scientists, artists, concerned citizens, and Indigenous Leaders (for decades). But, why are we so reluctant to truly listen? To take significant, meaningful action?
Our addiction to fossil fuels runs so deep. Our addiction to a commodity lifestyle holds strong. Our disrespect for women, and bodies, and nature fuel this juggernaut of destruction. And the corruption playing out at high levels has failed to place responsibility on the shoulders of corporations, governments, policymakers, those benefiting from age-old systems of oppression and greed. Individuals all too often feel overwhelmed.
Are we so unable to extract ourselves from this trajectory? To right this proverbial boat? I ask without clear answers, but with the same sinking feeling I have when my students ask. “Are you hopeful?”
I can’t lie. I am not hopeful. Climate change is not a distant future, but our lived reality. Right. Now. In the words of that same activist, Greta Thunberg, “The house is still on fire!”. And unfortunately for some, this is a literal and visceral reality.
As someone who has had the good fortune to be able to run out of a burning building in the nick of time, I know first hand the feelings of shock, horror, disbelief and grief that come with this. And how the aftermath can bring a period of reflection and shifting of priorities. Wishing safety and health to all of those suffering on the front lines of these fires today. It is not an easy path, but one made easier with the help of others. With community.
It’s time we all came together and acted with the urgency required when someone yells “Fire!”. Because it’s not a metaphor, it’s real. The hope I do have is in our ability to adapt, to shift in times of crisis. My desire is that we can feel that urgency sooner and take meaningful action together.