Climate Change 2021 Brought Us New Weather Words
2021 has been a disastrous year for Canadians. Most of us even learned some brand new weather-words including: “Heat dome” and Atmospheric River”. I’ll bet even you hadn’t heard of these word combinations until 2021. But wait: There’s more! Forest fires ravaged BC last year, wiping out the small town of Lytton, destroying many homes nearly everywhere else, and generally being very scary. Oh yeah there is still the pandemic too. What interesting times we all live in.
Climate Change is Real in BC
As I write this, BC’s West Coast is being drenched by yet another atmospheric river. So far we have been hit by 2 atmospheric rivers. An atmospheric river is a new, improved term for high winds and an awful lot of water. The first of these rivers hit BC’s lower mainland last week, dumping hundreds of millilitres of water throughout BC. Highways (and travellers on highways) simply vanished under new lakes or landslides. Who knows where the idyllic campsites I found in 2021 are now, or if they exist at all. And we are still at the beginning of storm season.
It’s hard to predict what the roads will be like by the time we leave on our travels next May (or June). All of the major highways in and out of BC were destroyed by mudslides and/or floods during the last storm. Amazing efforts by the BC government’s Transportation Ministry got Highway 3 back in action last week. Large sections of some highways (Like Highway 8) are simply gone, leaving the local residents stranded. Large parts of Highway 5, the major overland shipping route through BC are washed away. This created rumours of supply shortages and caused people from the Lower Mainland to Vancouver Island to go panic shopping.
Panic At The Costco
In Courtenay, panic stricken shoppers bought up everything from toilet paper to propane and gasoline. It’s kind of a side benefit to having a disaster- people do what they know how to do, and a lot of the time in our modern culture that means buy stuff. Toilet paper is not at the top of any Emergency supplies list.
Amazingly, Costco in Courtenay still has First AId Kits on the shelves, yet toilet paper was so endangered of being hoarded, that they had to make a limit on the number of 48 roll packages shoppers could buy. Across the street at Thrifty’s dog food was in short supply. There is no doubt that disasters are great for the economy, as they stir the masses into buying irrationally huge amounts of many products.
This week, on a regular forray to Costco to fill my 20lb propane cylinder, I witnessed at least 20 people taking home 90lbs to 300lbs of propane. We all know the average family cooking on a gas barbecue every night for a whole month will still have lots of propane in their 20 lb propane cylinder at the end of a month. 300 lbs of propane isn’t safer to store because there is a pandemic/flood/fire/heat dome. I am pretty sure disasters make the masses go quite literally insane.
Climate Change and The Irony of Consumer Panic
Ironically mass consumerism and it’s accompanying pollution is what created our current climate woes. Everything we buy is destined for the landfill anyway. When you think about it, landfill sites are filled with the hours of peoples lives that were exchanged for goods. A person works hard to buy some special thing. He saves (or borrows at some stupid interest rate) money and makes the purchase. He’s pretty proud of it and happy enough.
Can’t Get No Satisfaction
Then one day, a clever marketer plants a seed of discontent in his brain with promises of some novel improvement over the version of the product the person is happy with. Discontent grows until the new item is bought. And not long after that the product that previously brought so much happiness is turfed. All the time spent purchasing that item is now worthless to anybody. It is buried under a garbage bag of disposable diapers at the landfill
What’s a Meaningful Expenditure of Time?
People seem to have forgotten what is meaningful. What truly makes anyone content and even happy? No one would disagree that the things that make our lives meaningful are time spent making and cherishing our connections with other people, with nature, and with the world around us. Nobody will remember what you bought them for Christmas in 10 years but they’ll probably remember the time you enjoyed together over the Christmas season.
In the midst of a racaus symphony of rain beating a crazy rhythm on my roof, while the wild wind howls backed by the rhythm of the surf crashing on the beach outside my door, I just have this one uncomfortable thought: “If the human species is to survive, we’re all going to need to re-prioritize.”
This planet will be here forever. Me? I’m just passing through.Lynne Fedorick