Since wildfires razed the Canadian town of Fort McMurray last week, the link between climate change and such fires has been much discussed. Verbal fisticuffs erupted across social media and in the comment sections of most online articles on either side of this debate. Several authors also faced a backlash of vitriol and accusations of insensitivity.
While experts maintain that it's impossible to connect any specific event directly to climate change, the fires in Alberta are consistent with climate-related trends. Scientists have predicted longer wildfire seasons and more extreme fires and that's precisely what we're seeing around the world. Regardless of the science, finding a way to meaningfully discuss the climate context for such disasters remains challenging and elusive. We are all complicit, as Elizabeth Kolbert reminds us, but we are also stakeholders in a common future on this planet. For the sake of that future, we must find a way to keep everyone engaged in the conversation.
By: Beverly deVries, M.A., creator of Humans of a Warming World