More than 400 fires raged in Canada this week, many of which experts predict will continue for most of the summer. These fires are doing more than sending waves of smoke into the U.S. They’re also accelerating climate change by adding millions of tons of new carbon into an already overheated atmosphere.

We are prepared for none of it.  

The scientists have been warning us about climate change for half a century. But it always seemed a far off possibility that technology and time might take care of. So most people just went on with their lives, ignoring the repeated warnings of what they were told were limelight-seeking scientists and wild-eyed environmentalists. Now, regrettably, too much time has been wasted and the list of things we can avoid is shrinking.  

The fires aren’t happening entirely because of climate change, but like the rise in drought, floods, hurricanes and tornados, climate change is creating better conditions for all of those things to become more severe and more frequent.  

If I’d written these things a few years ago, you might have thought you were reading the words of an environmental radical loudly losing his mind. Fires in Canada? Smoke covering the East Coast? The worst pollution in the world in Philadelphia? What a nut!  

How quickly things have changed. For many of my Republican friends, climate change used to be a big joke. ‘Where’s your global warming now?’, they’d ask, whenever a cold day came along. They’d cackle about how much they’d welcome the longer summers and milder winters, if they ever came. Now, they’re beginning to grasp that warmer air and water also bring other things, including smoke in the sky, more bugs, unfamiliar diseases, droughts, flood and stress on plants and animals, including us.  


I wonder if they’ll ever understand how they got duped by the oil and gas crowd, funding its fake science questioning whether climate change was real or not, and bankrolling all those politicians to parrot their nonsense. I wonder if they’ll ever understand that all the lobbying in Washington to stop climate action – still going on every minute now – was really about protecting the deep pockets of fossil fuel billionaire donors.  

Who will they blame as the damage keeps advancing closer to home? I suspect it will be all the usual targets – liberals,  environmentalists, scientists, the media and government – anyone but the faces in their own mirrors.  

A lot of people put their faith in government – or at least government under Democratic control – to fix the climate problem. Government certainly has a big role to play. But it’s susceptible to unexpected changes of the guard, zig-zag policies, the power of big money and the politics of gridlock.  

More is needed. I suspect that the ordinary citizens of this state, and the country as a whole, are going to need to take matters into their own hands.

Wondering what you can do? Here are some places to start.  

• Stop burning things. As quickly as you can, stop burning gas in your car and oil or gas to heat your house. The next time you buy a car, make it 100% electric. Have your electrician install a charger at your house, and be your own filling station. A big wave of electric cars is in production right now, coming to a dealer near you in 2024 and 2025, and that rapidly-expanding production is going to drive prices down and quality up. For your home, never buy another furnace or boiler. Convert to heat pumps as soon as possible. In both cases, there are incentives that can help you move ahead and government really is, in this case, here to help.

• Connect with others. Whether you’re in a church, a civic organization, on a sports team, in a reading group, a chamber of commerce or a company, get the people around you to learn and act. Share information. Learn from each other. Before you start telling other people what they should do, be sure to do it yourself and lead by example.

• Vote for climate action. Stop thinking about parties and ideologies and start thinking about what needs to be done. Never again vote for anyone who doesn’t understand climate change and isn’t committed to forceful action now. Climate change should never have been made a partisan issue. That’s a luxury that our futures can no longer allow.  

Your country – and your planet – need you. 

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