The Heat Wave and the Ostrich

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It is said that the ostrich hides its head in the sand so as not to see the danger. The recent heat wave is a harbinger of things to come. To deny it is imitate the ostrich. When Mr Trump denies reality, by burying his head in denial, it leaves his rump high in the air, like an exposed target

The Heat Wave and the Ostrich

Wow! In Québec we have had a scorching heat wave on the first days of July. But we are not the only ones to suffer from the heat. In La Presse of July 7th, Philippe Mercure points out that  »… practically the whole of the Northern Hemisphere has baked over during the last few days…. ». Compared to the 40.5 degrees celsius in Tbilisi, Georgia, or 50 celsius in Abadan, Iran, our heat wave is small potatoes.(1) It would seem that heat is more difficult to handle than cold; there were about 70 deaths due to the heat wave, while the ice storm of 1998 caused the loss of 28 lives .(2)

It’s difficult to ignore the fact that we are already suffering from the effects of climate change. If you have found this heat wave difficult to bear, don’t forget that we should prepare for a worsening of the situation.(3) Fifteen thousand scientists put out a heartfelt warning to that effect last Autumn.(4) It was an echo of the warnings contained in the 5thReport of the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change). More worrying, some experts are wondering if their computer models are underestimating the effects of feedback loops. (5) If that should be the case, we are not out of the woods!

For the last 3 years, a short list of catastrophes in North America alone includes the monster fires at Fort McMurray as well as in British Columbia and California, the floods in Québec and 3 super hurricanes (Harvey, Irene and Maria). Even without taking into account the anguish and suffering of the disaster victims, this caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damages. The cost of these  »acts of God » worry the high priests of finance including the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney (6) But who is responsible for these disasters? God (some might say Nature) or the deeds of men?

We know that carbon dioxide has a greenhouse gas effect. Before the start of the industrial revolution around the year 1800, the concentration of this gas in the atmosphere was about 280 parts per million (ppm) while the world population was approx. one billion. Today with 7.5 billion humans and an increase in per capita energy consumption, the concentration of CO2is over 400 ppm. On the planetary level, try to imagine all the harmful gases pumped into the atmosphere by the use of all the coal, all the oil and all the natural gas that humanity has burned over the span of two centuries. No need to be a scientist to understand that a greater number of humans who burn more and more fossil fuels will increase the amount of greenhouse gases. Common sense should prevail since these massive amounts of pernicious gases are interfering with the delicate balance of the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, this good sense, based on measurable scientific facts, is not sufficient to convince Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump and all the thinktank punditsfinanced by the oil industry. These climate deniers think about their short term financial interests. And the ethical sense is very, very elastic. The director of the EPA ( Environmental Protection Agency) Scott Pruitt, had to be fired following numerous scandals (7) In barely 18 months, he managed to give a blank check to the petroleum industry so that they can pollute to their heart’s content. And damn the consequences! For these people, the withdrawal from the Paris Accord is a  »logical » gesture in the framework of their climate denial. No one is as blind as he who refuses to see !

It is said that the ostrich hides its head in the sand so as not to see the danger. So a small question for Mr Trump and all the climate deniers. While you bury your head in denial, that leaves your lovely posterior exposed to the heat, a perfect target for the revenge of a perturbed Nature, angered by your antics. Even if you use your yellow wig as insulation, will you be able to prevent your backside from baking in the 50 celsius heat as in the town of Abadan? (1)

Mr Trump, I do not care about your rump being exposed to that torrid heat; but I fear for the future of our grandchildren. They do not deserve to pay the consequences of your voluntary blindness!

Gérard Montpetit

member of Le comité des citoyens et citoyennes pour la protection de l’environnement maskoutain

July 16, 2018