I remember the morning distinctly…waking from a dead sleep on the futon downstairs in the basement, my dog at my side, already sweating….to a wide eyed panic that it was morning already and I was probably too late to water my crops before the sun was too unbearable to be outside. It was day 2 or 3 of the heat dome, and sleep came late in the nights before, the house not cool enough to sleep until 1 am or so. The evening breeze had disappeared in favour of a second heat release from the house, streets and sidewalks once sun set, baking us all with a deep radiating heat.
I quickly ran out to water the garden before prepping cold meals for the fridge that we could grab and bring downstairs during the day. Like most in BC, we have no air conditioning or heat pump, live in a home almost as old as myself and we also face south, so our upper deck and living area are in full sun from dawn to dusk. By the second day, despite keeping the windows and curtains closed to the hot sun, and having a shaded gazebo and umbrella outside to also shade the deck, the upper floor of the house was intolerably hot. Dangerously hot in fact, and we retreated to the coolness of the basement with our pets for the duration. I don’t know what we would have done without the basement. Upstairs was so hot we felt nauseous after only a short time.
I ventured out mid day with littlest that day to check on the garden.I wanted him to fully understand how intense the heat was and showed him the how the leaves on the raspberry bushes were scorched,like someone had come by and burned them with a blow torch. The birds that normally create a din of song, were gone,somewhere less hot. It was eerily silent because everyone was either inside or at the lake or ocean and we could feel our skin burning,a prickly sensation that gave me goosebumps….we couldn’t take it anymore and fled back inside. It scared me. The missing birds? They didn’t return for nearly 6 weeks, in numbers far fewer than before.
Unknown to us at the time, people were dying by the hundreds, literally cooking in their homes, without air conditioning and some fearful of going out to a cooling centre because of covid. Over 600 died in just a few days we would learn much later. Littlest asked me: “How are we going to survive when I’m an adult, if this is how its going to be?” I looked at the expression on his face and nearly choked on my words. What could I say to give him hope?
“We will adapt. Maybe we won’t go out during the day, and have work and shopping at night, like many hot arid countries do now. It will be ok.” I felt like I was trying to sell him something I wasn’t even sure of myself… like this poem by Maggie Smith details so well…this place could be beautiful…
But then last weekend, an unprecedented and historic low pressure bomb cyclone developed and parked itself off the west coast of BC and the US. This storm was between a category 3 and 4 hurricane near some areas and we dodged a bullet because it didn’t move ashore and weakened.
Here,we saw the edge of one outer spiral hit hard for about 15 minutes and I have never experienced anything like it. The sheer volume of rain, sideways in the wind in sheets, hail, thunder, rotating winds and then a flood of water down our sloped road that jumped the driveway curb and flooded the garage. Within minutes there was a foot of water in front of the door as I stood soaked, in disbelief at how fast it happened, watching the water come faster than it could go down the drain. And an hour later? Sunshine between the bands as we sandbagged in case the second blast was worst.
So now we have had two completely unprecedented weather events, just 3 months apart. These storms are expected to continue all winter. I, like most islanders, am ready for anything but I would be lying if I didn’t admit I am worried what else may come… the real storm season hasn’t even started. Which is why I, like many others, was shocked at the lack of urgency in the provinces update to Clean BC. Fatalities from extreme weather events really will be a fact of life with this plan pushing even the most basic items (like stopping slash burning) to 2030.
The province didn’t take the heat dome warning seriously, the premier admitting he was more focused and giddy over ending the covid state of emergency and opening the economy for summer. And while the lack of urgency in this plan is alarming, it shouldn’t be surprising. After all, Horgan defended the LNG deal he signed BC to, in the midst of the 2018 wildfire crisis, by saying: ” BC is just 4.5 million people sharing the planet with seven billion others. We have to be realistic about our impact on the planet.”
Even George Heyman is now spouting this kind of nihalist view, saying on the Early Edition with Stephen Quinn that ” Even if we stopped all emissions today, we would still have climate change.”
Now, he isn’t wrong. Even if we stopped using fossil fuels and stopped all pollution right this second, we have already crossed the boundaries for reversing or mitigating the impact in many parts of the world, something the documentary Breaking Boundaries: The Science of our Planet details so stunningly well. Greenland is past the point of no return. Its melting at a rate that is unprecedented. But that doesn’t mean we should put off 10 years what can clearly be done immediately or within a short time. It is our moral duty to do everything we can to mitigate risks for our kids and grandkids, and to ensure we allow and help communities to prepare for extreme weather. We are woefully under prepared.
What bothers me most about Clean BC is that it still puts the burden of change on people like you, me and small to mid size business,specifically to make up for the emissions of oil, gas and other high emission polluters. There is also a basic disconnect between the reality that weather extremes impact our electrical infrastructure in a bad way, as was demonstrated during the heat dome. Transformers were blowing all over, not able to handle the extreme electrical load or the unusually high temperature. Wildfires disconnect rural and remote communities from the grid. We have a lack of basic, community centred solar or wind backup that would allow basic emergency infrastructure to function. We have a broken 911 system where people are dying before anyone can come. We have zero local food security in much of BC. Not many can afford air conditioners and rental owners for the most part, don’t care about upgrading.
And despite this all we now have Weaver, the formerly respected climate scientist, chiding those who don’t buy into this crap…trying to remain relevant in his new role as Horgan hype guy.
We are not ready for climate change, at all. And it is very sad to see a man who once rightfully chided the NDP for taking this route, to now boost it. This will be his legacy, the acceptance that “this is good enough”, that absolutely appalls me. More than ever right now, we need these voices, loud and clear and strong, to speak for those who can’t yet speak, who aren’t born or old enough to have a voice.
In July 2019, I wrote that the NDP climate vision was actually a mirage. In October of that year I called them out for giving themselves an award while continuing to expand gas production in BC. Nothing in this new plan update has really changed.
So in looking back in Hansard for discussion on climate change and LNG, I came across a speech in the house from Spencer Chandra Herbert., who I adore. This is the link to it, from 2014. What happened to this passion? This determination? https://www.leg.bc.ca/content/hansard/40th3rd/20141022pm-hansard-v16n1.htm
I wish these MLA’s who I know have young children, would find their voices again. We don’t have to stop every thing – we clearly need fuel and we clearly need plastics as much as some people think we don’t. But we do need to move faster on community emergency preparedness. We do need to have a discussion that the exorbitant cost of site C will make our electrical bills unaffordable,and we need a discussion on why we have doubled subsidies to industries that make up less than 4.49% ( oil, gas and mining) of our GDP. https://www.statista.com/statistics/608359/gdp-distribution-of-british-columbia-canada-by-industry/
From this data, we clearly see that oil, gas, and forestry no longer are the backbone of our province. We do not rely on them for revenue to pay for services, but we do rely on real estate unfortunately, which is why we won’t ever see affordability unless something radical occurs. Does that mean we toss those industries? No. the trickle down impact in some communities is massive, but we do need to make sure we transition and train workers in areas that are phased out, and that industry is sustainable – truly sustainable – in others. Pushing efforts to stop slash burning to 2030 is ridiculous. New home build regulations don’t need to take that long either. And Hydro needs to acknowledge that communities must have the right to build out their own smaller power sources like some have via solar farms, to ensure they stay connected when storms and fires take out electrical infrastructure.
We can’t just keep pretending this isn’t going to impact all of us, in one way or another. We can’t pretend that Hydro power is the most reliable power source in BC when we saw reservoirs run so low a couple years ago after a multi season drought, that we were forced to buy dirty power from elsewhere. The only thing Clean BC is, is a nothing burger that the NDP will punt here and there until the next extreme weather event happens. And when people are left to fend for themselves as happened during the Heat Dome, there will be hell to pay.
Some of us have not forgotten the tragic lessons provided by Mother nature during the heat dome, the biggest and harshest of which is that we are not ready for any disaster on a wide scale, especially right now. It was a wake up call that scared many to the core and yet most politicians just continue to act like we have time… until we don’t. The world is changing, and if we don’t ? She won’t miss us one bit.
7 thoughts on ““In Nature there is neither rewards or punishments, there are only consequences.” ~Robert Green Ingersoll”
The NDP have lost their way, they have embraced the hubric view that only by increasing taxes and in some cases, onerous taxes on the population, will alleviate global warming.
Mother nature in her usual way of using a sledgehammer to get her point across, has been ignored. We need real action now, not bureaucratic taxes designed to make provincial spreadsheets look good.
The provincial government (really the premier’s office) has signed off on a $3 billion and counting, 5.8 km subway under Broadway. Not only is this a complete and utter waste of precious transit monies, it will not take a car off the road; will not ease congestion; will not reduce CO2.
Subways are very poor in attracting ridership for many and varied reasons and are planned for as a last resort (due to the huge costs involved) of planners when ridership on a transit route exceeds 15,000 persons per hour per direction. Forget what TransLink and the City of Vancouver is saying about Broadway, the current maximum capacity of the Broadway 99B (the only bus service to be replaced) is a mere 2,000 pphpd, catering to traffic flows less than 4,000 pphpd.
The Expo Line extension to Langley is another $4 billion plus boondoggle, with now over $1 billion in outstanding funding and in fact the extension is currently dying, with the funding being diverted to complete the Broadway subway to UBC, which will cost over $5 billion, but will have a much better politcal and development (read speculative) result.
$8 billion for a needless subway to UBC.
For $8 billion we could build:
1) A BCIT to UBC/Stanley Park, European style light rail system – Cost $1.5 billion.
2) A downtown Vancouver to New Westminster LRT, via the Arbutus Corridor – Cost $750 million.
3) A deluxe Vancouver to Chilliwack TramTrain service, serving North Delta/Surrey, Cloverdale, Langley, Abbotsford, Sardis/Vedder. – Cost $1.5 billion
4) A complete restoration of the E&N railway, providing a quality TramTrain service from Victoria to Port Alberni and Courtney. – Cost $1.5 billion
5) The restoration of the Salmon Arm to Kelowna Passenger rail using TramTrain – Cost $1.5 billion.
6) A Whistler to Vancouver regional passenger service – Cost $750 million.
.These are not whimsical figures but very good estimates by those who work in the field.
Which investment would attract more ridership?
Which investment would take the most cars off the road?
Which investment would help more in the fight against climate change?
Please do not tell me what the NDP are serious in the fight against global warming. Hell, the Horgan government, all governments are using global warming simply as a cash cow and nothing more.
Agreed. These are excellent suggestions. I’ve written many times of things we can do to mitigate to no avail. New builds with solar and geothermal. Living roofs. Neighborhood enhancements to reduce median temperatures from blazing hot asphalt and concrete. Even now I see on island compete areas clear-cut to build homes, with dinky little trees planted as an afterthought and people wonder why some communities are so hot.
No one seems to want to make the hard decisions. Like slashburning. My God why are they pushing that off years down the road? Don’t want to possibly cut into profits of forest companies? We have massive piles of wood debris and perfectly good small timber burning on hillsides here across the valley all winter and fall. Its insanity. We can’t even have wood burning heaters in our homes anymore here but forestry companies can bloody well burn nonstop for months. Go figure. And this happens all over BC.
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Jesus. The slash piles in Sooke and up to Renfrew are massive, and full of wood that could/should be utilized for firewood, pulp, mulch, compost and salvage for artists. Nope, burn it, log it, pave it, as they say. As for the plastic, they’re banning grocery bags here, which I rely on for kitchen garbage liners, so I’ll have to buy those disgusting “kitchen liners”. From double use recycling to single use corporate bags that smell awful and are stupidly expensive. Great thinking, you government morons. Also, I always thought that our town should micro grid and get off the hydro teat. We have good options.
I am disgusted, frankly.
You might need to edit this article to now add the crazy water spout tornado that just hit Vancouver. Weather and the power of nature is beyond predictable anymore, the disruption will only get worse. Thanks for sharing this article and your thoughts on it all.
Expect a new post on this Chris, and thanks for stopping by. We are so not ready for anything like what was seen this weekend……not sure how long we can dodge the bullet before one of these extreme weather events hits dead on with significant impact.
We saw things fall apart during the heat dome. Imagine what would happen right now if we get a severe storm hitting even us on the island dead on.
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The problem, I think, is the our politico’s have become so drunk, drinking their own bathwater, that they cannot deal with major problems when they arise. In an emergency, having stakeholder meetings just does not cut it.
A long time neighbor ( know, third party comments and all that) who is one of the top Muni health bureaucrats told me that we were 3 weeks too late dealing with Covid and if we had acted sooner, like stopping cross boarder trips, would have greatly mitigated the tragic results of the pandemic. But with both federal and provincial elections looming, alienating those wanting cheap gas, milk and eggs from across the 49th, erred on the side of NOT losing votes.
Evidently the first spread of Covid came from the Costo in Bellingham! Still the feds allowed international flights and only much later demanded quarantine from those arriving. God help us from people wanting to holiday in Arizona, Mexico and Hawaii. She told me if the vaccine had come just a month later, we could easily add a “0” to the current death numbers. It was/is so bad in the Excited States that mostly Republican States have greatly under reported Covid deaths and not to shockingly, she told me that the real numbers are about twice as much!
The heat dome and brutal fires, resulting is the destruction of several villages in BC, is again politcal complacency, combined with a deadly hubris.
From what I can gather the Lytton fire was probably caused by arson, (a firefighter friend of mine said that a broken piece of glass could have started it by refracting the suns rays) not the train, which everyone likes to blame for starting the fire. Lytton being the hottest spot in Canada, would you not think having a round the clock, provincial fire watchers cruising the canyon watching for smoke and fire?
The answer is no, just blame the train. Always blame the train.
We are not prepared in BC for disaster, rather we are naval gazing, waiting for the next fiasco so we can blame it on all the usual suspects.
For me, the blame reside with the government, not being proactive but being reactive and a damn long time doing that!
Evil Eye, the blame may or not be with the government. We, the voters, put governments in office, and then sit back and let them go for it. We are an uninvolved electorate. We pass our responsibility to the politicians and happily do so until something goes wrong.
The heat dome was awful and hundreds died, but whose “fault” is it? Could the government have done more? Could the media have done more “advertising” to ensure the public was aware of the problem? Could people have done more by checking on their family, friends, neighbors?
Do we blame the heat dome or do we blame the conditions which led to the heat dome? If we blame the conditions which led to the heat dome, then the majority of humans contributed to the situation. Some people are more complicate than others. Corporations who are only interested in their profits and shares, the politicians who want to stay in office and thus accept money from corporations they are then indentured to. there are governments who don’t care about the environment, only that their countries continue to produce.
Nothing is going to change until we demand change. If we don’t change a few billion will die because there won’t be enough food and water due to climate change. Those that can get through this will do so and not care too much about what is happening in other countries. Canada can’t even get it act together to go pick up several thousand Afghans who helped our military. You expect them to deal with climate change? That is way out of their legue.
We ought not to have been surprised. Back in 2003 Europe had an incredible heat wave in Aug. As I recall France had approx. 13K or 14K people die. How did that happen? Well most of them were seniors and their families went on vacation, no one checked, the aged died.
To make things better, climate wise, we need far fewer people on this earth, if we want to continue to live as we did in the last century. We can accomodate the current population, but greed is going to have to be set aside. Investments will have to be made, yes billionaires and others will have to start paying their fair share of what makes the world go round. Poverty does not help the world’s environmnet.
India and China are huge green house emitters but are they to blame, because it is we in the west who purchase all of this stuff.
giving up plastic bags is not going to change the world or improve things. it just makes us feel better about the pollution situation. Are they in fact that bad? The plastic floating around the ocean isn’t all coming from Canada. If we switch to paper bags we’re cutting down trees and the recycling racket simply uses great amounts of gas, oil, and water.
When I see climate change protestors I frequently laugh because you know most are buying new cell phones each time one comes out. People want the newest t.v.s, steros, etc. new furniture every few years, appliances which won’t last more than 5 years. Some body is getting rich and the world poorer, along with the earth.
The province had a lot of other issues going on during the heat dome, such as COVID, burn out of paramedics and other health care workers, and a drug epidemic . Yes a lot of people died during the heat dome but it isn’t so many when you consider how many people die due to violence in places such as central america, wars in the middle east, etc. What the heat dome did teach us is the world and its problems are coming to our door and we are no longer exempt from the misery others face each and every day.
/we might want to start by giving up dryer sheets. They pollute the air and the earth and serve no useful purpose. If your laundry stinks and needs a scent, you’re not washing your cloths properly. Try not driving one day a week, keep your electronics until they “die”. Its a start and next time we have a heat dome, run some ads about drinking water and if you don’t have air conditioning freeze some empty water bottles with water, wrap them in a towel and put them next to your body. Works like a hot dam.