Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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12

Nov

2022

Climate change killing famed sockeye run

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday October 23, 2022 

 

Such a miracle is the salmon!

            Of the 4,000 or so eggs that a female sockeye deposits in the Adams River, B.C.’s most famous salmon run, only two will survive long enough to start a new generation.

           There’s a salmon run every year. Every fourth year, though, is the biggest run.

            A week ago, I drove up to the Adams River to see what was supposed to be a banner year, a dominant year. 

            I’ve been there before for a dominant year. So many salmon were packed together, each one seeking the best grovel for spawning, that I felt I could walk across the river on their backs. 

            Not this year. 

 

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13

Aug

2021

A slow-motion apocalypse

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday August 8, 2021

 

Seventy-six years ago yesterday, the world’s first atomic bomb seared the city of Hiroshima in Japan. Writer Tom Englehart makes Hiroshima personal.

            In a column in TomDispatch, he described a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which, he says, “can obviously offer a visitor only a hint of what it was actually like to experience the end of the world, thanks to a single bomb. And yet I found the experience so deeply unsettling that, when I returned home to New York City, I could barely talk about it.

            “While it’s seldom thought of that way, climate change should really be reimagined as the equivalent of a slow-motion nuclear holocaust. Hiroshima took place in seconds, a single blinding flash of heat. Global warming will prove to be a matter of years, decades, even centuries of heat.”


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10

Nov

2019

Time to quit the denial game

Author: Jim Taylor

You’re in your car, let’s say. You pull up to the intersection. You stop. You look both ways. The road seems clear. You pull ahead and --

            Ka-wham! An enormous force smashes into you. You’re spun around, tossed like a rag doll in a Rottweiler’s jaws. You look up at the radiator of the logging truck that’s crushing your car, and you, into a cube of crumpled metal. Just before a black wave of pain and shock washes over your senses, you ask yourself: “Why didn’t I see that coming?”

            A car crash serves as a metaphor for other shocks.

            The firm where you’ve worked loyally for 35 years tells you to clear out your desk. Your spouse hands you a package of divorce papers. Your doctor looks at the test results, sucks her teeth, and says, “It’s cancer. Stage IV already…”

            At times like these, your first reaction is often, “Why didn’t I see it coming?” How could I miss the warning signs? How did I kid myself that even if I saw the signs, they wouldn’t affect me?

             Thirty years from now, I imagine a lot of people will look back at the early decades of this millennium and ask themselves those same questions.


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26

Aug

2018

Fires and floods mark the new normal

Author: Jim Taylor

This has been a summer of natural disasters. Some rain has finally come to B.C., but by the end of this summer, the province will have fought some 2000 forest fires. Smoke from those fires has spread across the prairies, into northern Ontario, even crossing the Atlantic to Europe. Just as smoke from fires north of the Arctic Circle, in Sweden and Siberia, drifted into Canada. 

            Meanwhile, California had its worst wildfire season. In Greece, some residents chose to drown in the Aegean Sea, rather than to burn on land. 

            Fires rampaged in Australia. And an estimated half of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef died, from rising ocean temperatures. 

            At the other extreme, southern India had its heaviest monsoon in 100 years, displacing close to a million people. Floods ripped through almost any country you can name. Highways washed out. Cars vanished into sinkholes. Mudslides swept houses off their foundations.

            But still some people deny that all this has anything to do with climate change. And certainly deny that humans had anything to do with it. 


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6

May

2018

The ways we make flooding worse

Author: Jim Taylor

Flooding has hit British Columbia again. News reports overflow with stories of property owners sandbagging their homes, their farms, their businesses. Oliver, Kaleden, Tulameen, Cawston, Cache Creek -- the chorus of afflicted communities swells day by day.

Mudslides close highways. Culverts wash out. Hundreds of homes are ordered evacuated. 

            And I haven’t even heard about what might be happening farther east, in the Kootenays. Or farther north, along Highway 16. 

            I heard a politician pontificate, “It’s a one-in-70-year event.”

            Really? Weren’t we saying the same thing during last year’s floods?

            Connect the dots, people! Connect the dots!


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4

Sep

2016

Terrified rider on a runaway planet

Author: Jim Taylor
There’s a tasteless joke about an old man who died peacefully in his sleep. He just closed his eyes, took a final breath, and was gone. “That’s how I want to die,” said his son. “Not terrified and screaming, like the passengers in his car.” I’m one of those passengers, and I’m riding in a car called Earth. And I’m terrified that a bunch of drivers may be taking the planet we’re all riding on off a cliff. The driver may be Donald Trump, if he gets to be president of the most powerful nation on earth. Or it may be Bashar al Assad, who is not president of a powerful nation, but whose regime has been catalyst to a civil war that has generated the greatest flood of refugees since World War II. Or it may be the faceless CEOs of massive corporations like Exxon and Goldman Sachs, who are quite content to let the planet crash as long as they get their bonuses.
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