Agassiz’s Pioneer Park freezes over during the snow and ice storms this past weekend. (Contributed Photo/Laura Tunbridge)

Agassiz’s Pioneer Park freezes over during the snow and ice storms this past weekend. (Contributed Photo/Laura Tunbridge)

OPINION: Winter’s rude awakening

Editor Adam Louis recaps the frightful weather

I really should’ve invested in a set of skis before I came to Canada, but maybe not for the reason you think.

This weekend, the weather once again caused activity throughout the Fraser Valley to grind to a slow, frigid halt. Environment Canada says between Saturday and Sunday, Agassiz experienced just short of 40 millimetres of precipitation. In this case, the precipitation came in the form of a none-too-appetizing cocktail of snow followed by freezing rain followed by another layer of snow just to add insult to ice-based injury.

Meanwhile, back in the middle of a certain neighbourhood of Chilliwack, my wife and I would’ve enjoyed a long winter’s nap for the weekend. With everything shut down, what was there to do but take a few days to decompress and relax? Those plans of doing absolutely nothing were foiled over and over when branches began to fall all around our home.

The weight of the ice and snow caused who knows how many branches to snap and crash into our backyard. The best we could do was hunker down and listen for any especially alarming noises in a sea of noises that weren’t supposed to be there. It resulted in a few sleepless nights for us both, and all we could do was hope the trees wouldn’t fall.

Thankfully, they didn’t. An experienced local expert checked the trees out and said they looked healthy, and thankfully, they held. Our building had some damage, but nothing near what I feared might’ve come to pass. We’d survived.

Even looking back in the past year, I know as harrowing as my experience was during the ice storm, so many have had it worse than myself. Between mudslides, widespread flooding and wildfire – all within the past 12 months, no less – many people in B.C. have lost so much.

Even outside of the realm of disasters, nature needs to be respected. There’s so much about nature that will never be tamed and will remain forever out of our control. These disasters offer a frightening glimpse into the wild side. As humans, we’ve done a great deal of damage to the environment, which has led us down the road of climate change and weather events the likes of which have never been seen. Each new disaster is a reminder that for as incredible as human achievement can be and as well as we can coexist with and ride out the worst storms, we are still only a tiny, expendable cog in a much larger, more complex machine.

Lest I be accused of being a Negative Nelly – again – I will say it’s not all bad. While generations of people have been careless toward the environment, it’s still fair to say that even within the past year, humans have made great strides toward helping the natural world as well. This is particularly true as climate change has risen as a pressing point of policymaking and discussion.

Many readers over the age of 30 might remember the stress over preserving the ozone layer that protects the planet from harmful ultraviolet rays. Because of the 1987 Montreal Protocol (go, Canada!) that limited ozone-harming chemicals, a recent study suggested 443 million people in America alone would likely be spared UV-caused skin cancer by the end of the century. Thanks to scientific advancements and a type of “in vitro fertilization,” there is hope that vital marine habitats like the Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs around the world could show signs of recovery. Even here at home, the amount of people who go that extra mile to help keep bears away and who rush to the aid of our local hummingbirds every winter makes a big difference in the long and short term.

Seeing the awe-inspiring power and the simultaneous delicacy of the natural world is a truly remarkable thing. We should seek to be of help rather than harm to the natural world wherever we can. It’s up to us to preserve it for generations to come.


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