Extreme heat is a climate emergency! People in BC are dying and everyone’s afraid of wildfire. We speak with Jens Wieting from Sierra Club of BC. Indigenous forest scientist Garry Merkel was on BC’s Old-Growth panel he talks about the new logging paradigm. Tzeporah Berman video about how crucial it is to make a FossilFuelTreaty.org
Listen or download the MP3 here:
Collated by Linn Murray
Heat records in Canada are falling like dominos this week, as British Columbia swelters under an unprecedented extreme heat wave.
The Canadian all-time hottest recorded temperature was broken on Sunday in Lytton BC, as temperatures soared to 46.1 C. That record was short lived, and was broken Monday as Lytton reached 47.5 C, hotter than the hottest temperature ever recorded in the desert city of Las Vegas. And today that record will probably fall again, as temperatures in Lytton are expected to top 48 C. For perspective, that is just 8 degrees lower than the hottest temperature ever recorded on planet earth, 56.7 C in California’s Death Valley.
On Sunday, 60 additional temperature records tumbled in communities across British Columbia. The areas around Trail and Creston, in the West Kootenays breached their all-time records at 42.3 C in Warfield, and 39 C in Creston.
The extreme heat has also prompted the opening of cooling centres in city spaces across the province, and several school districts have initiated school closures in the lower mainland and Vancouver Island. BC’s persistent high temperatures prompted a call to voluntarily close workplaces if businesses can’t protect employees from heat stress.
BC Green Party leader Sonia Fursteneau linked the extreme heatwave to the climate crisis in a tweet Monday, saying “Climate change is a public health emergency and we need to treat it like one.”
Climate Scientists have been showing for decades, that climate change acts as an amplifier for extreme and unpredictable weather. David Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment Canada, said over the weekend that climate change tends to make heatwaves and other weather events more volatile and extreme, calling it “steroids for weather.”.
In the United States’ Capitol, Washington D.C., hundreds of youth climate activists surrounded the White House Monday in a nonviolent blockade demanding President Biden take meaningful action on the climate crisis. Agents with the Secret Service arrested dozens of the youth, after activists peacefully blocked all 10 entrances to the White House.
The arrests came in response to last week’s announcement by the Biden administration of a $579 billion bipartisan compromise infrastructure bill, which activists say fails drastically on climate action. The youth-led Sunrise Movement, which organized the protest, accused President Biden of breaking his own 2020 election promises and failing to listen to science.
The demonstrators had three core demands: First, that Democrats stop negotiating with Republican politicians who don’t care about climate action: Second, for Biden to meet with the Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash and other youth organizers who handed Democrats control of the White House and Congress; And thirdly , to pass a bold jobs and climate package that includes a fully funded Civilian Climate Corps.
“Whether or not the Biden administration is aware, the bipartisan infrastructure bill’s climate provisions are a measly fraction of his campaign promises, which themselves were a fraction of what is necessary to rebuild our economy and stop the climate crisis,” Prakash said.
On Wednesday, the Biden administration decided to back the Trump administration’s approval of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. The Justice Department argued in a legal filing that an Army Corps of Engineers permitting process followed its legal obligations to consider the pipeline’s environmental impacts.
Opponents to the projects like the Sierra Club say that the decision by the Biden administration to permit the Tar sands’ pipeline expansion, goes against the President’s election promises for strong environmental policy. Earlier in June, over 250 people were arrested by police in Minnesota, amid ongoing protests attempting to block the pipeline expansion. On Monday, Minnesota Hubbard County sheriff’s deputies barricaded access to an Indigenous-led encampment of land protectors, towing cars and making several arrests.
Similarly, the Justice Department earlier this year declined to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline, made infamous for the extreme force used by military-style police against peaceful Indigenous protesters at Standing Rock under the Obama administration.
The big American automakers, GM and Ford have talked proudly about moving to electric vehicles but real world numbers show most of their investment plans and production are still on producing large polluting SUVs and pickup trucks in the near term.
In a report last week Environmental Defence found only 3.5 per cent of new vehicles sold in Canada are electric, while 80 percent are SUVs, pickups, or vans. They found that over the past decade, increasing SUV sales added an extra 18 million tonnes of carbon emissions over what would have been emitted by standard-sized cars.
A 2019 Sierra Club study showed the auto industry still spends 28 times more on advertising for vehicles with combustion engines than for electric vehicles.
Despite repeated calls for action from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, Canada has failed to adequately protect Wood Buffalo National Park, home to the world’s largest inland delta, from the impacts of industrial development.
Leaks from toxic tailings ponds, combined with the damming of the Peace river valley are moving Wood Buffalo National Park close to being placed on an international list of the world’s most threatened world heritage sites, according to a new report released Monday by the World Heritage Committee.
With degrading conditions in the Peace Athabasca Delta, it warned that unless changes are made Canada’s largest National Park is headed for the endangered list as early as next month. If added, Wood Buffalo would be only the second North American site on the endangered list, after the Everglades in southern Florida.
A new report card by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), paints a bad picture of many of Canada’s provinces in Canada’s efforts to protect land and water. The report card tracked the conservation records of all provinces, territories and the federal government and measured how close each one has come to targets set in 2010 to protect 17 percent of Canada’s terrestrial territory and 10 percent of its oceans.
At the top of the list, leading the country in protecting ecosystems is the Federal Government, Quebec, the Territories, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
Bottoming out the list, with the worst recent track-record on conservation are the governments of Alberta, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and British Columbia.
The up and down LNG industry has sagged again, and prospects for multi billion dollar compression plants around the planet have again faded. The size of the projects has exposed investors to catastrophic losses. And the recent IEA 2050 scenarios show that Fracked Gas has no place in a climate-safe energy future. The only question is whether governments in the USA and Canada will waste precious political capital propping up shaky LNG investments.
BC is in a similar spot with several LNG projects hobbling along including LNG Canada in Kitimat which is under construction, but with a marginally profitable future projected. Analysts point out that big investment money is nervous money, and the big renewed push for Fracked Gas which rose in 2017 under BC’s NDP government could fall off again.
North America continues to lead the world in Fracked Gas export expansion plans, even as the practice of fracking is increasingly banned by eastern states and provinces.
Amid the extreme heat gripping much of BC, the fire danger is also going up. Wildfires in Trail and Kokanee Creek provincial park sprung up over the weekend, but were quickly put out according to authorities.
The Nelson Star reported that a fire started Saturday opposite the entrance of Kokanee Creek Provincial Park, and was quickly put out by commuters passing by on the highway. A group of good samaritans reportedly leapt out of their cars and kicked dirt on the small wildfire while phoning 911. Balfour-Harrop Fire Rescue chief Pat Hergott said residents were dumping water from bottles on the fire when his department arrived on scene and soaked the area.|
Meanwhile in Trail, a 0.4 hectare fire which started on Sunday has been declared under control by authorities. Firefighters were successful in subduing the blaze, according to BC Wildfire service.