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Editorial: The bigger picture

Verne Tom photographs a wildfire burning alongside a logging road approximately 20 kilometres southwest of Fort St. James, B.C., Aug. 15, 2018. The British Columbia government has declared a provincial state of emergency to support the response to the more than 500 wildfires burning across the province. — Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press
Verne Tom photographs a wildfire burning alongside a logging road approximately 20 kilometres southwest of Fort St. James, B.C., Aug. 15, 2018. The British Columbia government has declared a provincial state of emergency to support the response to the more than 500 wildfires burning across the province. — Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

It’s oh so very tempting to write about U.S. President Donald Trump’s very bad day. After all, his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was convicted of eight felonies, and his former lawyer and self-described “fixer,” Michael Cohen, not only pleaded guilty to eight felonies of his own, but directly implicated the president in the process.

But when you’re looking for a string of news events that are happening in a single day, there’s a far bigger story — and a far more frightening one — to look at.

Here’s a sampling of news that rolled out on Wednesday.

• 565 forest fires, many out of control, are burning in British Columbia, grounding aircraft and spreading heavy smoke over much of the province and into Alberta. Among the causes? Climate-change related swaths of forest killed off by burgeoning populations of mountain pine beetle, a bug no longer kept in check by cold winters. “We’re concerned — all of us — that this may be the new normal,” B.C. Premier John Horgan told reporters, saying the situation was “unprecedented.”

But when you’re looking for a string of news events that are happening in a single day, there’s a far bigger story — and a far more frightening one — to look at.

• The “flood of the century” has hit the Indian state of Kerala. So far, 350 people have died and more than a millions are homeless. The numbers for rainfall are astounding; the state has already received 30 per cent more rain than the annual average, with another three months of rainy season ahead. There hasn’t been anything close to this since 1924.

• The northwestern U.S. has been told to expect near-record temperatures, several degrees above normal, and new forest fire risk over at least four states.

• New research was released showing that scientists now expect the world’s temperature is expected to be higher still in the next four years — on top of the world’s hottest years ever — in order from highest down, 2016, 2017, 2015 and 2014, respectively.

• And, perhaps of special interest to this province, with its dependence on the fishery, scientists studying the Bering Sea this summer have discovered that a long-standing area of cold ocean water has simply disappeared. The cold water helps northern species survive, including valuable shellfish species. “No cold pool. None. In 37 years of surveys, this is the first time we have not found in a single water station with a bottom temperature of less than 1 degree Celsius,” fisheries scientist Lyle Britt told a public meeting. “When we got to the point in the survey and realized there was not going to be a cold pool, we’re not seeing pollock the way we should see them, we are not seeing invertebrate population where we should be seeing them. And, we’re hearing about seabird die-offs.”

• Oh, and a category 5 hurricane is approaching Hawaii.

New stories on weather extremes pile up daily.

Donald Trump and his swamp of a sideshow may weather the current political storm.

Will we weather the larger one?

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