The Climate Emergency and Our Response

As I have previously mentioned, my hometown of Lytton burned down.

Does that not sound weird to say my hometown burn down? Well the truth is that’s what happened.

Essentially all of the village including the police station, the ambulance station, the medical clinic, the hospital, the seniors care centre, the two grocery stores, the liquor store, you get the picture. It all burned.

Except for the Anglican church, the parish hall and the ministers home. Weird right.

Anyway, this isn’t so much about Lytton burning as it is about what we can do to prevent Lytton from burning again or prevent other communities from burning.

There’s lots of talk about the world being in a “climate emergency”. Or talk about cities, or provinces, or the federal government declaring a climate emergency.

The bottom line is it doesn’t matter who says we’re in a climate emergency or if someone says we’re not in a climate emergency because the fact is we’re in a climate emergency.

Science doesn’t give a rat’s ass about opinions.

We are rapidly soiling our nest. We are turning the world into an inhospitable home for many species, humans in particular.

And it is absolutely pure vanity for us to say we are ruining the earth. Actually, we’re not ruining the earth, to be more accurate, we are ruining the earth for human life.

Well now that I’ve set the scene for a cheery conversation where do I go from here.

Fact is there are things we can do to help mitigate the effects of this climate emergency and our insatiable hunger for fossil fuels.

Here’s an example. The city of Coquitlam needed to replace the median a long stretch of Como Lake Avenue near the Charles Best secondary school.

What they did was plant all sorts of slow growing grasses and flowers in the medians.

Plants consume carbon dioxide—a significant greenhouse gas—in the process of photosynthesis. The reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has an indirect cooling effect.

Plants also cool the atmosphere because they release water vapor when they get hot, a process similar to sweating.

Having plants in our built environment also creates an environment for bees. You know, those tiny little bees – the insects responsible for pollinating all the plants that we use to grow food. Pretty important I would say.

Having plants and greenery in the median also creates a visually appealing effect as well as a cooling effect. Who doesn’t like a garden bed full of beautiful flowers?

Contrast that with the changes done to Lougheed Hwy where it runs through Burnaby.

Rather than planting greenery that provides a visually appealing environment that has a heat cooling effect for the local environment, they went with a stone, cement, and steel median.

Stones, cement, and steel absorbs the heat from the sun all day long then radiates that heat out all evening and night – making the city or local environment insufferably hot late into the evening and night.

It is time for everyone, especially city planners, to pay attention to how choices impact our environment. Because like I said above, we are in a climate emergency whether people believe it or not.