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Editorial: We need to combat the climate crisis with life-and-death urgency

Our community is built between a sea that is rising and forest that is drying
Heat wave (Getty)

The COVID-19 pandemic was the largest disruption to society since the Second World War. We wore masks, stood six feet apart and paid people to stay home because we understood it was a matter of life and death.

As of July 6, 1,759 British Columbians have died from the virus, each one a heartbreaking loss to a family. Millions more around the world lost their lives. Thanks to vaccines, the pandemic is now subsiding and we could not be more grateful.

But, over one week in June, another 719 suddenly perished in B.C., about two-thirds of them because the temperatures were simply too hot to survive, B.C.’s coroner suspects. While our COVID-19 deaths are almost now behind us, the numbers of people dying due to a warming planet are only going to get worse over time. This is to say nothing of the impacts climate change has on other species’ ability to survive and our interdependence on them.

We need to decarbonize our society and do it with the same life-and-death urgency we applied to COVID-19. When it comes to land use, transportation, housing, industry, agriculture and natural resources, our government policies at all levels still seem to regard climate change as a distant problem.

Last year, when crafting their COVID-era budget, West Van council decided an extra $20 per household was just too much to ask for a climate levy and they axed it. We can imagine the scoffs that move would produce in Lytton today. That is, if Lytton still existed. About 90 per cent of the town was lost last week to a peculiarly early wildfire.

Our community is built between a sea that is rising and forest that is drying. Let’s start acting like it.

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