Many thanks to friends outside of Canada checking in on us. We are far from the Halifax fires, about 25 km, and it is primarily affecting a suburban community. But the air quality is impacted everywhere in the province.
There are also other fires raging across the Maritimes, with an enormous 20,000 hectare one in Shelburne County. And thousands of people have been displaced, with many losing homes, animal companions, lifelong memories. This is not to mention the tremendous loss of wildlife.
This week, Nova Scotia is set to have record breaking temperatures as high as 30C (86F) by Thursday. This, combined with dry conditions and low precipitation, has created a tinderbox of our forests. Any incendiary can ignite a blaze. But there is an elephant in the room.
Less than a year ago, hurricane Fiona caused widespread damage across Atlantic Canada. It was the most costly weather event ever recorded in the province. Now, Nova Scotia is seeing an early wildfire season. In fact, we’ve seen more wildfires at this point in 2023 than in all of 2022. And our region is not alone. Across Canada, the catastrophic impact of the climate emergency is fast becoming a new normal.
In addition to this, the forest industry has commodified vast swaths of wooded land, stripping it of its biodiversity. Sprawl and loss of habitat has devastated urban wetlands, which are instrumental in halting or slowing fires. Add to this a renewed “gold rush” and it is a recipe for future disasters and an acceleration of climate change.
We can’t reverse climate change. It isn’t even likely that we could slow it down. And there is no indication that anyone in power is doing anything substantial to seriously address the crisis anyway. In fact, under the current arrangement of power, the economic elite continue to ravage the living earth, suck out its primordial blood, and stuff their coffers with coin unabated. Our collective future isn’t even a footnote in their forecasts.
But the rest of us will all need to navigate this new and terrifying world soon and mitigate the suffering that will undoubtedly come with it. We will have to take our place within the intricate web of nature that, for too long, we have rejected for the dangerous and self-destructive myth of human supremacy.
No one will have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines merely watching things unfold on the horizon. Because that horizon is rapidly approaching us all.
Kenn Orphan, May 2023
*Photo is of the fire in the Upper Tantallon area of Halifax.