Review by John Miles
While I was reading Edward Struzik’s Fire Storm: How Wildfire Will Shape Our Future, the Camp Fire in Northern California roared through 100,000 acres in two days, destroying many structures and killing, at this writing, 80 people with more than a thousand missing. Natural disasters like these are attributable to weather and not necessarily climate change, but warming oceans and extended droughts are causal factors in such events. Reading of the consequences of sea level rise and megafires, I could not help but think about how many of us humans are in denial and cannot summon the will to do anything to mitigate climate change and is effects.
Edward Struzik is a Canadian science and environmental journalist who has lately focused his work on the impact of climate change in Canada and the Arctic. His most recent book, Fire Storm, is a hard look at what seems a new normal for wildfire in the northern latitudes – megafires, which are defined as fires of over 100,000 acres. He opens his book with a riveting account the May 2016 Fort McMurray fire in northern Alberta that burned nearly a half million acres, destroyed 2400 buildings, and required the evacuation of 80,000 people. Luck was with the people of Fort McMurray and its surroundings, and no one died, but this fire is considered the worst natural disaster in the history of Canada. Struzik writes:
The important thing is that no one died in the fire, people keep telling me over and over again. They are right, of course. But they are also wrong, because loss of life is not necessarily the best way of measuring success. Fort McMurray was the worst natural disaster in Canadian history. It could have been much worse if so many things – wind, demographics, safety training, quick and creative thinking, heroism, and luck – hadn’t aligned in the manners they did. The town dodged a lot of bullets. Read more.