Ocean Mist

Issues and trends shaping our environment, health and economy

15 Jul 2023

Smoke signals

Posted by Michael Keating

When I get up in the morning I always check the weather forecast. Now I also check the smoke forecast on Firesmoke. We may have fair weather but still be plagued by smoke blowing south from the hundreds of forest fires burning across Canada’s north. Some days I look up and the sky is brown with air pollution. It will be a bad day for breathing. It’s just one more signal of our climate crisis. The north has become so hot and dry that it’s like a campfire waiting for a match. Around the world this summer people are suffering and dying in record heat waves. Crops are withering. June was the hottest month on record. Storms are becoming more fierce.

Despite decades of warnings and agreements to reduce climate changing pollution we’ve made no progress. About 80 per cent of the world’s energy comes from burning fossil fuels: coal, oil and gas. We have been adding large amounts of renewable energy in recent years but that is mainly coping with growing demand and the old fossil fuel burners keep pouring out pollution that harms our health and is destroying our climate.

We have to face a stark choice. We can make unprecedented cuts to fossil fuel use which will cause huge disruptions to our economies and lifestyles for years as we shift to renewable energy. Or we can continue to stumble along and change the climate so much that our civilization will crumble. Hard choices. Time’s a wasting.

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