I really should have invested in a set of skis before I came to Canada, but maybe not for the reason you think.
This weekend, the weather again caused activity in the Fraser Valley to slow down. Environment Canada says between Saturday and Sunday, Agassiz experienced just short of 40 millimeter rainfall. In this case, the downpour came in the form of a not-too-appetizing cocktail of snow followed by freezing rain followed by another layer of snow just to add insult to ice-based injury.
Meanwhile, back in the middle of a certain neighborhood of Chilliwack, my wife and I would have had a long winter nap over the weekend. With everything shut down, what was there to do if take a few days to decompress and relax? Those plans to do absolutely nothing were thwarted over and over again when branches around our home began to fall.
The weight of the ice and snow made sure who knows how many branches cut and collided in our backyard. The best we could do was listen to especially alarming sounds in a sea of sounds that were not there. It resulted in a few sleepless nights for both of us, and all we could do was hope the trees would not fall.
Fortunately, they did not. A knowledgeable local expert checked the trees out and said they looked healthy, and fortunately, they held up. Our building had some damage, but nothing came close to what I feared might have come. We had survived it.
Even looking back over the past year, I know as horrible as my experience was during the ice storm, so many have had it worse than myself. Between mudslides, widespread flooding and wildfires – all within the past 12 months, no less – many people in BC have lost so much.
Even outside the realm of disasters, nature must be respected. There is so much about nature that will never be tamed and will remain out of our control forever. These disasters offer a horrible sight in the wild. As humans, we have done a lot of damage to the environment, which has put us on the path of climate change and weather events whose likes have never been seen before. Every new disaster is a memory that can be for as incredible as human performance and as good as we can survive with and ride out the worst storms, we are still just a small, usable cog in a much larger, more complex machine.
To be accused again of being a negative Nelly – I will say that it is not all bad. While generations of people have been wary of the environment, it is still fair to say that even in the past year, people have made great strides to help the natural world as well. This is especially true because climate change has emerged as a driving point of policy-making and discussion.
Many readers over the age of 30 may remember the stress over the conservation of the ozone layer that protects the planet from harmful ultraviolet rays. Because of the 1987 Montreal Protocol (go, Canada!) That chemicals limit ozone depletion, a recent study suggested that 443 million people in America alone were likely to be spared by UV-induced skin cancer by the end of the century. Thanks to scientific advances and a kind of “in vitro fertilization,” there is hope that vital marine habitats such as the Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs around the world could show signs of recovery. Even here at home, the number of people who go the extra mile to keep bears away and who help our local hummingbirds make a big difference in the long and short term every winter.
Seeing the awe-inspiring power and simultaneous delicacies of the natural world is a truly remarkable thing. We must try to be helpful instead of harming the natural world where we can. It is up to us to preserve it for future generations.