It has been demoralizing to read all the sky-is-falling news that has become the norm these days. Agreed the world is in peril, or should I say humankind is in a tight spot. Never-the-less news sources seem intent on making it worse. Blame the 24 hour news cycle. Trump (still), overpopulation, pandemic and climate crisis, it’s enough to make you want to jump ship. No wonder Musk, Bezos and the rest of the rich guys are trying to rocket off this burning, freezing, flooding planet.
This month the Fraser River delta flooded due to something called an atmospheric river, or in layman’s terms, a lot of rain in a narrow band. Of course, the news cried climate change from every rooftop. We have done it to ourselves, they exclaimed, the time to repent is nigh.
The difference this played with the people affected by this disaster is mute. Farms, livestock, livelihoods and property was lost. It is heartbreaking.
No-one is excluding climate change and the roll humans have played in it’s advancement. Be that as it may, the flooding around Abbotsford happened on a natural flood plane, a river delta, a place where lakes and wetlands were drained to make way for towns, developments, and fertile farmland.
Unfortunately, large storms runoff and nature is going to reclaim these areas, especially when tides are surging, rain is falling on concrete and can’t be soaked up.
It’s a disaster whichever way we look at it. Naturally we blame others, something we can’t control.
When I was young I used to walk my Grandfather’s trail along the canyon of the Palliser River to where Albert River joins the flow. Centuries old fir and rock walls everywhere, still I found routes here and there down to the river to toss a line.
On one of these trips as a young adult, I followed the trail until an entire chunk of the mountain had sloughed off and rolled into the river. It more than obliterated the trail. There is no saying when it had happened as I hadn’t been on the trail for several years. It frightened me to think what it would have been like to have witnessed it or been in it’s path! If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear it started to make sense.
It settled across the river and changed its path. The water still has to flow after all. One of my Grandfather’s fishing holes he prized for fish to make into trapping bait was no longer.
This by no means is an unusual occurrence the mountains and rivers are continually reshaping themselves with and without our help.
This area has now been heavily logged, following the old trail, blazed on the fir and spruce, would be all but impossible now. The runoff from the mountains creates even more slides into the river without the trees to hold the earth from slipping. It is still remote and rarely does anyone witness the ground slipping, mountains rolling and the river cutting. It’s nature.
We can exclude ourselves from it or be part of it.
Part of my hometown is built on an alluvium. Toby Creek runs down from the mountains spreading out before entering the Columbia River and Lake Windermere. The entire area known as Athalmer would regularly flood in the spring. One of my friends families houses was built on stilts. Residents sewer systems which were often no more than a hole would mix with their shallow wells making the water undrinkable.
The solution, as population grew, was to dyke Toby Creek and change its course so it entered the Columbia below Athalmer. It mostly worked.
I still get a kick when it backs up into Lake Windermere, turning it muddy and log bound during seasons with heavy runoff, making the tourists in their motorboats having to pick their way into the lake. For now the dyke has held saving businesses and real estate. Will it forever?
Piliated Woodpeckers will hammer on live trees. Some think the woodpeckers are killing the trees. Some think it’s the bugs under the bark that the woodpeckers are after killing the trees. Maybe it is the decay from age that has brought on the bugs and woodpeckers that are killing the trees. Maybe it’s the warmer temperatures caused by climate change that has allowed bugs like the Pine Beetle to flourish that is killing the tree. Perhaps it is part of a larger cycle that accounts for the tree to die. The same cycle that may one day put humanity directly in its crosshairs, regardless of how smart and separate we consider ourselves from nature the future may prove our match.
Does it mean we should give up trying? The answer is no.
There is happiness in less waste and consumption, in the endeavour to find peace in the current of creeks, in the rolling of rivers, the oceans’ ebb and flow and the clouds and sky revealing gifts lost but not forgotten, forever ingrained in our DNA.
To blame every weather event and natural disaster on human caused climate change, although may make a compelling news story, in the long run, is not helping matters. It makes us think we are more important to the earth than we are, second, it makes people think all is lost. Bezos and Musk may be hellbent to call it a day, but we’re really just getting started on a better path, we just have to be smart about it.