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Hi, kind krafters,
Today's topic is one we’ve all heard of, either on the news or from word of mouth: the fires burning in the Amazon. For some, the pictures of the devastation alone can strike deeply. I could understand the devastation intellectually, in terms of our delicate climate, but it was only when I remembered my experience with the Alberta fires last summer that the horror sank in.
The forest fires in Alberta had been burning long and far, but the smoke from one fire grew incredibly. I was in Calgary and happened to look outside. The sky had gone from blue to gray, and the sun had turned red. I had had no idea of the cause at the time, only that the phenomenon was worth photographing – like the true millennial I am. While the photo was lost amidst my move to Halifax, I can still see the picture clearly. After, when yellow smoke blanketed Calgary, the news reports put what I had seen in context. Another picture from that moment stays in mind as well. One news article reported that the haze from this fire reached even the Maritime sky. That was the moment I realized how irrelevant our concept of distance was against natural distance, from which disasters emerge. My friends in Halifax could see the very smoke through which I ran every morning. I believe that eureka! moment contextualized the horror occurring in the Amazon, like a corrective lens, sharpening something many people around me could see that I didn’t.
I’m lucky to have had that experience. I can also see the irony in calling myself a Millenial and then discussing an ongoing crisis like the Amazon through my personal enlightenment. It’s an issue on a lot of social media and op-eds; your thoughts are valued insofar as they reflect an undefinable purity. But I think asking that is a super-human task. We all process events through our perspective, shaped by our unique experiences. Divorcing ourselves from our bias, as many a science student knows, is never truly attainable - though noble a drive, it is! There are not many lens through which I can definitively, or even speculatively, discuss the crisis in the Amazon, but I think there’s more gained by opening the discussion to everyone than there is limiting the discussion to experts.
We don't know what consequences the clearing of the Amazon will have within the next few years, but factually, the Amazon is integral to the global ecosystem. Climate change has accelerated over the past century. The public has come to acknowledge its impact in the past few years. We’ve seen this growing awareness in a number of public forums, from mainstream media, talks and treaties amongst global economies, climate change becoming an electoral subject (if not issue), and large scale protests around the world. To an extent, it can be argued that the Amazon fires capture attention because most people innately react with horror to such massive fires. However, I see this rising awareness as similar to my experience contextualizing the Amazon fires against those in Alberta. Natural disasters that happened every few generations now happen every few years. While the cause of the Amazon fires is not known, it is hard to believe a natural fire would spark in such a lush landscape – and yet, lack of rainfall and humidity, the very consequence of climate change, could plainly and unfortunately explain it all.
There is a silver lining to this, kind krafters! This crisis has brought everyone together. People I’ve never heard mention climate change, now discuss the fires using those terms. World leaders are united in taming the fires, under the banner of climate change. Some may see this new awareness as a continuation of self-perservation of a hyper capitalist society. In my books, a public commitment to prevent destruction and protect preservation is a step in the right direction, and a glimpse to a brighter future. Yes, climate change may be inevitable, but if so, I think we should do our best to return all that we’ve taken, whether it’s in acknowledging our mistakes or concentrating our energy into reversing them.
Until next time,