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JONESIE: The twin disasters of Fort McMurray

May 11, 2016 - 12:06 PM

OPINION


When wildfires strike, evacuees go through a natural cycle of emotional stages.

First is surprise and shock, which confuses actions. You throw a bunch of meaningless junk into a vehicle and if you’re lucky you remember children and pets and maybe some photo albums among your snow pants and cheese slices.

Then you try to remain calm as you get into traffic with all your neighbours who are also trying to flee. Next, once you are clear from danger, comes the feeling of helplessness. Great you are safe. But beyond suddenly remembering all the things you should have packed — now what?

Well, go on social media and see how people are trying to score points off your emergency, that’s what.

On the Fort McMurray fire, first it was a ridiculous former Alberta NDP candidate who called the fire 'karmic', I suppose because it happened in Canada’s tar sands and the NDP is upselling climate change these days. If he was simply being an observer instead of an ass, he would have said it was 'ironic'.

Then all the oil supporters rightfully hit social media to excoriate the fellow for scoring political points in perhaps the greatest natural disaster in the country’s history. Then they backed that up by scoring their own political points.

And so on.

Surely climate change is and should be part of this discussion. We are well past relying on nerds and data for this information — you need only use your own eyes. But that so many people raced to their caps lock button for a PANICKED LEAP to judgment shows how 'climate change' is as much or more of a scapegoat, buzzword and mindless political rallying cry than a measure of science.

Man definitely helped create the conditions for these ‘super-fires’ but rushing to climate change ignores more direct factors. By far, the greater human interference is our ability and effort in putting out fires for the last 50 years. Two years before Okanagan Mountain Park burned in 2003, I wrote about concerns that fire suppression left so much fuel piled on the ground that once fire did start, there would be no stopping it. And they were right. It’s the same all over this great forested land.

Now that’s ironic.

Also ironic is the rage of so many Albertans, oil-supported families and general right wingers, unleashed on anyone who would dare discuss climate change now. This is an emergency and we should focus entirely on the disaster, they said. But while they were at it, of course, they had time to share on social media some nefarious link to Syrian refugees and lies about how Canada isn’t helping its own people. I’ve seen more memes about Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley than I did in the campaigns that elevated them to office. This is no longer a disaster, it's a recall campaign.

And somewhere in an oil camp cut off from the rest of the world by flames and ash, comes the final emotional stage of the evacuees — confusion. I’m sure it’s something between tears and laughter that their disaster has become a sideshow to the disaster of political discourse in this country.

— Marshall Jones is the editor of iNFOnews.ca

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
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