Connecting extreme weather events with climate change isn’t exactly a new thing.
After Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of New York and New Jersey in 2012, Bloomberg published a front page spread proclaiming, “It’s Global Warming, Stupid.”
So how did the climate conversation around the still-raging Fort McMurray wildfire that destroyed thousands of homes become so befuddling-ly messed up?
Conversations about climate change as a factor in the wildfires has garnered about as much attention as the wildfires themselves. For a recap of the “middle-finger salutes,” schadenfreude and #tinyviolins mock-sympathy for the people of Fort McMurray, check out this article on Slate.
(Add in, May 12: It's worthwhile to point out that while there were a lot of unfortunate aspects of the public conversation about the fire, many environmental NGOs rallied their organizational capacity to raise money and basic support for evacuees. The executive directors of Canada's most prominent environmental groups including the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Ecology Ottawa, Environmental Defence, Equiterre, Greenpeace, LeadNow, Sierra Club, Stand and West Coast Environmental Law urged support for evacuees in a joint press release published Friday, May 6.)
Cara Pike, climate communications expert with Climate Access, says the urge to link what’s happening in Fort McMurray to climate change should be tempered by a keen sensitivity to the very real human suffering on the ground.