Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Big Dryyyyyyyyy

The wildfires in Australia just keep getting worse. The "Big Dry" is now into its seventh year -- and drought caused by global warming is only exacerbating the current cycle of forest fires which have now killed at least 84 people, including a former news anchor of the Nine Network and his wife. Temperatures in some parts of the country have now hit a whopping 47°, and even in major centres like Melbourne water reservoirs are about 40% or more below where they should be.

A country like Australia, which covers areas from temperate zones to the tropics is one of the proverbial canaries. Canada, going from mid continent to the Arctic is another; Eastern Africa is a third (and extensive drought there explains a lot of the problems in places like Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia); the fourth is the EU trade bloc where subtle shifts in the starts of seasons have wreaked havoc on nesting periods and farming seasons. Europe is a particular concern; relatively mild winters and warm summers have given way to huge snowstorms in the winter and scorching sizzlers in the summer with no respite for days on end -- and in a continent not as used to air conditioning as North America is, people are dying in the heat waves.

Since we're currently getting the blow-back from excessive growth the last two or three years, maybe the current recession (hopefully brief) will give the world a chance to take a breather, and for things to temporarily return to what we've come to expect as normal; but unless we have a major change in our lifestyles and understand we can't keep taking without giving back, we really are screwed. If a developed region experiences an irreversible catastrophe, then it will be a march to Armageddon not made of Israel vs the rest of the world (as the dispensationalists claim), but an ecological one of our own making.

For Canada's part, Stephen Harper needs to read the whole bible, not just the passages selected by his pastors, and understand the Scriptures require us to be stewards of the earth, not its exploiters. The West -- Canada's breadbasket -- had extended drought before and it was also during a period of major economic decline over which they had no direct part in creating. Trying is not enough. We really do need action. Environmentalism is not a personal virtue. It's a moral imperative, whether it's a few score people in Australia or 2 million refugees in Africa. What we do in the developed world affects the rest of the developing world, and hits like a sledgehammer in the developing world.

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