OPINION: Dreams of white picket fences are going up in smoke

If there is any doubt about whether climate change is a reality, living in Squamish for the last few days should put those doubts to rest.

Smoke from the United States has blanketed our town in a sickly-looking fog that has caused temperatures to drop while obscuring the usually-beautiful skyline of mountains and monoliths.

It’s just the latest sign we are on the verge of a climate catastrophe, and it was not the first. In previous years, smoke from other parts of B.C. wrapped around Squamish, giving the sun an eerie red glow while covering up the Stawamus Chief.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has sounded the alarm for catastrophic alterations in our environment unless we limit global temperature rises to 1.5 C by dramatically altering our habits.

Carbon consumption would have to be cut by 45% by 2030 and slashed to zero by 2050.

There’s no question that this seems like a tall order, but in light of recent days — and past wildfire seasons that also saw smoke blanketing Squamish — there is no choice.

We all have to make pretty tremendous sacrifices soon, otherwise, we risk making the planet completely uninhabitable.

All of us want a slice of the good life.

A house to ourselves and our family.

A backyard with a neatly manicured lawn and flowers. Two cars and a garage.

This, quite frankly, is a dream that will have to become relegated to the past.

It’s a lifestyle that drains too much resources and leaves too much of a carbon footprint.

With a ballooning population — and with this ballooning population wanting families and white picket fences of their own — this way of life will undoubtedly push us far over the 1.5-C limit.

As I write this on Sept. 14, the smell of smoke has filled the office, and I’m getting headaches just from breathing.

So far I’ve been lucky. I haven’t had any severe respiratory reactions to this, but it could be around the corner, given that I have asthma.

It’s something that I really don’t want to think about.

We have to curb our ambitions and give up our traditional dream of success.

It’s something that everyone — including myself — will have to wrestle with.

I may never own a house. I may have to give up on having a vehicle.

Whether myself or any others follow through with the IPCC’s advice, I’m not sure.

But if we don’t, it shouldn’t be a surprise to us that this continues to worsen.

We have to concede, sadly, that our dreams of white picket fences are going up in smoke.
 

© Copyright Bowen Island Undercurrent