OTTY LAKE: ONTARIO: Now I am a climate refugee.
On this magical Sunday morning I sit on the porch of our rented cabin about 50 miles south of Ottawa. It is 71 degrees and a fresh breeze ripples the surface of this lovely clear blue lake.
And there’s a cold front coming, promising temperatures in the low 60s and little humidity.
Opening my e-edition of The Sun two headlines catch my attention.
Above the fold: “Celebrating a giant leap.” Ah yes, the half century anniversary of the moon landing.
Below the fold: “Brutal heat wave still grips half of U.S.” New York City canceled its man on the moon fest for lack of astronaut-like apparel to protect Mr. and Mrs. America from extreme temperatures.
No such constraints halted the annual Stewart Park Festival, in the nearby picture postcard town of Perth. Children frolicked in the cooling eddies of the Tay River, while their elders sat on lawn chairs and listened to Montreal’s alt-country folk band, El Coyote, sing of love, loss…and partying.
The news from Florida this brutal summer of our discontent has been unrelentingly bad. Still more flesh-eating bacteria victims. More toxic blue-green algae contamination. The reefs are dying.
“Forget eggs. If global action isn’t taken on climate change people could grill steaks on the sidewalk,” cautions another Sun story. “…scientists project ‘off-the-chart’ heat indexes of up to 130 degrees.”
We are like frogs in a pan of cold water. So far so good, but the temperature keeps inching up by degrees.
And Canada isn’t immune. Ottawa is having its hottest July ever. Montreal just recorded its highest temperature period. There have been 54 heat-related deaths in Quebec…so far.
Like much of the American west, forest fires have been taking their toll up here too. Tick-related Lyme Disease is on the, um, uptick. Arctic ice is melting. On Wolfe Island, in the St. Lawrence River, Big Sandy beach was closed due to flooding and erosion.
And, our neighbor solemnly informs us, the corn is late this year.
But at least Canada admits it has a problem and is trying to confront it. The most striking visuals on scenic Wolfe Island are the 86 giant wind turbines thrusting up out of the wetlands and into the sky. Part of Ontario’s commitment to phase out coal fired plants.
And so far no reports of increased cancer cases among the islanders, Donald.
Listen, nobody up here minds my sort of climate refugee. We bring assets and can be counted upon to go home.
Our county commissioner, Robert Hutchinson, and his wife Meg rented a houseboat on the St. Lawrence for a week and were able to download an app that made moving back and forth from the Canadian to American side no trouble at all.
“The differences between the northern and southern borders of the US couldn’t be more stark,” Hutch posted on Facebook.
But that could change. A fair number of the masses trying to get into the U.S. via Mexico are already climate refugees. And whose to say that, in a generation or so, Canada won’t be similarly deluged as south-of-its-border hordes flee an unlivable Arizona, Florida, Utah or Louisiana?
In Kingston we toured Ft. Henry, part of a chain of ramparts built by 19th century Canadians who feared a U.S. invasion. The day may come when our friendly neighbors to the north will start talking about their own wall to keep us out.
(Ron Cunningham is former editorial page editor of The Sun. Published in The Sun July 28, 19.)