Michaels: Okanagan smoke cover should make us wonder, what would T-Rex do?

It must have made poor T-Rex want to cover his eyes in horror, but alas, his stubby arms wouldn’t have allowed that.

When that giant asteroid smashed into the earth, causing worldwide forest fires, tsunamis and an ‘impact winter,’ they must have been really confused as life as they knew it withered beneath a heavy blanket of smog. It must have made poor T-Rex want to cover his eyes in horror, but alas, his stubby arms wouldn’t have allowed that.

Too far with dino empathizing?

Probably. But T-Rex’s short arms have always seemed like a feature worth discussing and, more importantly, as our days grow cool beneath a smoky haze, I can’t help but think that their fate seems remarkably similar to our current plight.

Where we differ from our predecessors, of course, is that our arms are long enough to scratch our heads and our brains are big enough to come up with some solutions. Or, at least they should be.

Trouble is that economic interests always seem to trump environmental issues.

When I was a younger, less-jaded reporter all things green seemed to preoccupy both our government and the business community.

Greenhouse gas production was being scaled back as a hydrogen highway stretching all the way from Los Angeles to Whistler was plotted out.

Covering the Okanagan’s obsession with development was an exercise in Earth-friendly thinking back then, too. If you read this paper eight or so years ago, you probably could have made a drinking game out of how many times the term LEED made it into the paper. Your liver will thank you if you didn’t.

One time I was interviewing a builder type, however, and I asked how long he figured it would take until all homes were built in a way that was more at one with the world we live with.

He told me that would never happen. The economy would eventually take a hit, and then all things green would turn brown as the pursuit for gold became more intense. He claimed to have seen it at least half a dozen times over his life.

I figured he was just a grump.

Then Americans killed the economy and grumpy seemed brainy.

We now know there will never be a hydrogen highway.

But, more importantly, we know that governments put their focus on the economy above all else. Pipelines, fracking, oil sands and wider highways have been the most all-consuming news topics of the last few years.

All the while, scientists and environmental organizations were ringing alarm bells about rising sea levels, melting polar ice caps and soaring temperatures.

Today we get news that fracking is causing earthquakes in the northern reaches of B.C., while we literally breathe in the remnants of a region ravaged by fires. Then, add to the mix that they’re getting snowstorms in Alberta.

Seems to me that the “extreme weather events” we’ve been warned of for the last decade or more have decided to rear their ugly heads, and it’s not just costing us our health.

The simple fact is that if these events continue as we’ve seen them this summer, they’re going to have a cataclysmic effect on the economy, and not in some far off land. Here, at home, tourism has obviously taken a hit from the smoke, and if this is indeed the new normal, as Premier Christy Clark alluded to when she was at a Westside fire earlier this summer, how many jobs will be lost?

Who will even want to live here?

It’s enough to make someone want to throw their hands over their eyes, but given there’s an election in the offing maybe we can do better.

Maybe, we can keep these issues in mind and head to the ballot box this October to affect change in a way that the poor dinosaurs couldn’t.

Kelowna Capital News

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