‘Which Way Does the River Run?’ (Lennie Gallant)


by Peter Johnson

Bryan Adams wrote ‘The Summer of 69’, back in 1984.  Well, how about a song about the summer of 2023?  It would be a different tune from the one he wrote about teenage angst and trying to get a bunch of teenagers to stick to the plan of starting a band.

Recently, as the story goes, a bunch of Canadian scouters were greeted upon arriving in S. Korea for the 2023 world jamboree with, ‘You must be the Canadians…you smell like smoke.’ This summer doesn’t highlight teenage angst, it screams, ‘Climate Change’, according to a recent article in the Toronto Star.

It looks like the Northern Hemisphere, and Canada in particular are on fire.

Maui, of all places has been torched this past week. Smoke from fires in northern Quebec and Ontario have made life miserable for those of us who have to breathe. The smoke has drifted as far away as Scotland and Europe, changing sunsets and affecting those breathers too.

Ordinarily, we watch others getting flooded on our evening news telecasts. Ottawa had areas underwater that have never been so wet before. I remember Billings Bridge in Ottawa, before there was a shopping mall there. It has never seen flooding like it had last week. 75 to 100 mm of rain fell in a few brief but wet hours. Barrhaven and Findlay Creek were hit with tornadoes in the past month. Tornadoes? In Ottawa? In August? Can we blame it on the LRT? It might be a gateway to this dimension from another, and evil forces are making their presence felt…via a train?  Well, maybe not.  I don’t think we can even blame this on Mr. Poilievre who, some say, just might also be similar to the LRT in many ways. I don’t think that is a very nice comparison.  I don’t care how much you hate the LRT.

And hot!  How hot has it been? Again, citing The Toronto Star, who in turn cited Environment Canada’s lead climatologist, David Phillips, ‘If the climate was balanced, you’d have as many cold records as warm records.’  But so far this year, there have been 372 hot temperature records set, compared to 55 cold ones.  Hudson Bay is warmer, as is the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic coastal waters surrounding our lovely, but charred nation. Charred?

‘With more than 13 million blackened hectares, it has been the worst wildfire season in North American history. All 13 provinces and territories have been affected, often at the same time. Tens of thousands of people were forced from their homes, hundreds of houses were destroyed and four firefighters have been killed.’ (TorStar)

So, what is all of this saying?  It is screaming Climate Change and Global Warming. An acquaintance once described Scotland as a place where, ‘the weather is lousy, but the climate is great.’  Weather is what we are experiencing right now, climate is what we have been and will be experiencing over the course of our lifetime. We are a long way away from the end of this summer’s weather. We will continue to have extremes: torrential downpours instead of the usual heavy showers, record high temperatures, tornadoes, power outages caused by high winds and uprooted trees…and hail ‘the size of limes’, as Environment Canada advised, just a week ago.

This is not a once-in-a-lifetime summer. This is the new normal. Only, there is nothing normal about it. Humans have had a profound affect on the planet. It is time to realize this. Canada, along with some of the other legendary polluters, like China and the U.S.A., needs to sit up and take notice. Now would be nice.


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