July 2, 2021- The couple felt certain that they would be safer jumping in a hole they had dug, for another purpose, than trying to outpace the wildfire that was engulfing their small village, in British Columbia’s Fraser Canyon. They did not figure on a collapsing live electric power pole. The pole fell directly into the hole and the pair were electrocuted.
There will be other horror stories, no doubt, as the fire which destroyed most of the village of Lytton continues its march through the canyon. British Columbia and Alberta have suffered as many wildfires as any given U.S. state, over the past twenty five years. The increase of heat and lack of moisture, throughout all four seasons, is indeed subjecting just about any temperate forest on the planet, along with many desert landscapes, to risk of wildfire. Add to these, the desperate slash and burn attacks on tropical forests by people encouraged to settle the regions, by their own governments-in a short-sighted effort to relieve urban overcrowding. and we are looking at destruction that will far outstrip any conflagration yet seen.
There are those who point out that ancient peoples, on all continents, used fire as a tool to clear scrub and naturally occurring debris. Those fires were carefully monitored, however, much like today’s controlled burns-which are set and extinguished, by forestry professionals, who are following the evidence of careful forest management practiced by the Algonquians of eastern North America, for example. Willy-nilly techniques were never part of the toolkit of the ancients, nor are they advocated by their descendants.
The extent to which the burning of fossil fuels is exacerbating the present rise in temperatures and destruction of habitat is open to debate. That does indicate, however, that the beginning of the process of building a technology, that is not dependent on fossil fuels, is in order. I get that people need time to wrap their heads around the changes that will come. There will need to be training and demonstrable proof that these new methods will bring about a mitigation of weather extremes. Some of that proof is already here: The country of Greenland, facing the loss of its icecaps, by 2050, is successfully using wind energy- even through the northern winter. There are far more people now, than there were when we transitioned from animal-led transportation to its motorized successor-and there was much resistance then. The five-fold increase in population, however, has been matched by an increase in the overall level of education, across the globe.
We can move on through the present crisis. We can reduce the number of Lyttons, Fort McMurrays, Paradise (CA)s, Yarnell Hills. If the human mind can conceive a technology, human ingenuity can construct it.