I can hear the Ministry of Natural Resources helicopter up in the sky early on this hazy Red Lake morning. The smoke from nearby forest fires continues to drift into town, getting better or worse depending on the wind direction. This morning it’s heavier than it has been in a few weeks. The fire situation in the region is keeping the fire fighters extremely busy as our dry and sunny weather continues. Our family is planning another canoe camping trip this week, but where we go will be determined by the fire conditions when we leave on Wednesday. Currently there are three fires burning in Woodland Caribou Park, and the access point that we generally use is closed.
As the global climate changes from our carbon pollution in the atmosphere, scientists say we can expect more and more severe weather. This year in northern Ontario we are more fortunate than the folks in Texas, who haven’t had rain since last fall and whose farmers are now slated to get emergency relief from the government due to the conditions of “drought, excessive heat, high winds, and wildfires”. Those people who say that addressing climate change is too expensive, haven’t considered the big picture. Governments aren’t going to be able to afford to compensate everybody who faces calamity because of increasingly severe weather conditions. Former World Bank Chief Economist Lord Stern has said that climate inaction will cost one third of the world’s wealth. The Texas drought relief is just one small example of how we will all start to pay for our government’s reluctance to address this issue. How could they start? Carbon fee & dividend, which collects a fee at the source of the carbon pollution – mine, well, etc – and passes the money collected back to citizens and/or households (dividend) would allow the market place and human ingenuity to develop newer, cleaner ways of running our economy and producing goods. Want to learn more? Check out this great resource, Building a Green Economy, by Citizens Climate Lobby member Joseph Robertson.