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Emergency without end

What next?

An unprecedented drought has led to unprecedented wildfires in the Interior of the province, and the widespread closure of crown land until Sept. 14. A carelessly discarded cigarette butt could consume Stanley Park in about an hour, say authorities, and Whistler is also at extreme risk. According to Fire Chief Bruce Hall, residents would only have a few minutes to evacuate their homes if the winds were against us.

More than 230 homes have been destroyed thus far, and evacuations have, at various times, left tens of thousands homeless and wondering. Some of the victims were insured and some will have to start over.

This is the second dry summer in B.C. in as many years, separated by a winter with below average snowpacks in many regions. River beds have dried up, and reservoirs are dwindling. Some salmon runs are too shallow for the fish to spawn this year, which will have repercussions on sport and commercial fishing years down the road.

Exacerbating the situation, the lingering pine beetle infestation is blanketing the province, killing trees and providing wildfires with ready fuel. It’s also impacting heavily on the logging industry’s operations.

All it would take to end the infestation for good would be a week-long cold snap of minus 20 degrees Celsius, something that hasn’t happened in B.C.’s Interior or the coast for several years.

Canada’s woes don’t stop at the B.C. boarder, either. The middle part of the country continues to suffer from a drought that is killing crops, and a Mad Cow scare that has rocked the beef industry.

Cases of West Nile virus are being reported in the prairie provinces as far west as Alberta.

Ontario is being hit from all sides – a SARS epidemic, West Nile virus, a blackout, Mad Cow disease, smog, heatwaves, you name it.

Quebec is still dealing with spring floods that swept away buildings and drowned livestock.

Meanwhile, the eastern part of the country is suffering through one of its wettest summers on record. According to a Globe and Mail article, the rain has killed the tourism industry, and has impacted on agriculture as well. Tomatoes and blueberries were rotting before they could be harvested, and heads of lettuce were swelling up and exploding.

At the same time, the cod stock has not come back, and other fish stocks are showing the strain as well.

Europe is currently suffering from a heatwave that has killed thousands and led to some of the worst forest and brush fires seen on that continent in hundreds of years.

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