By Michael Nickerson
Have you heard the one about the frog in hot water? Throw the poor creature into a pot of boiling water and it leaps out, but put it in a cool pot and gradually warm up the water et voilà! Boiled frog! One has to wonder just who the sadist was that came up with this disturbing little factoid, but it’s a story often repeated when it comes to global warming and climate change. In short we’re a bunch of amphibians blissfully boiling ourselves to death, oblivious to the problem around us.
Not having tried this experiment myself for fear of being evil I can’t speak to its veracity, but there are signs that the good species Homo Sapiens is clueing in that things are getting downright toasty. Not because of any statistical information or scientific reporting. Such talk has generally been met with either indifference or conspiracy theories to the effect that leftist eggheads are out for our Hummers. No, having to flee a forest fire or swim out of your flooded living room on an annual basis seems to be getting people’s attention. Washed out crops, severe drought, rising tides, and blistering summers seem to have people thinking this isn’t all down to a short-term bout of energetic solar flares or the Chinese government.
But don’t look so glum. This is great news! Well not if you’re a polar bear or snowmobile manufacturer granted, but definitely if you’re a member of the military looking for proper-sized budgets and respect. See the problem has always been that the threat has never been in our own backyard. Starving Africans, warring Arabs, belligerent Russians, tsunamis, earthquakes? Not in our backyard. But gosh darn there’s some stuff going on in our backyards now; very wet stuff, soggy stuff, or crackling hot stuff, depending on the region.
As CDS Jonathan Vance recently pointed out in a CBC interview, the forces are stretched beyond thin rescuing, sandbagging, and generally supporting towns and provinces with one climate disaster after another. And this will only get worse in the coming years. Heck, it’ll get worse by the end of this summer if trends continue. And the forces are tapped.
Of course this is not a new state of affairs. Our forces have been tapped out one way or another for decades, with each election cycle bringing new promises of funding, support, and commitment to the troops that Canadians generally take for granted. Our soldiers are more symbols than people: peacekeepers wearing blue berets, war heroes fighting for justice in oppressed lands. In essence people doing things Canadians know not what, helping people they’ll never meet somewhere else for reasons more academic than visceral.
Is it any wonder that there was no serious outcry over one report after another of underfunding, lack of equipment and personnel, or of soldiers and veterans falling through the cracks? Didn’t really affect us, now did it?
Well, by God, it does now! It’s one thing to lament the state of our military and its members when it doesn’t really impact you, and quite another when those members are saving your hide, your family and friends, your property, and your means of putting food on the table. That’s when you feel some obligation to keep those people happy. Tipping the minimum just won’t cut it when you’re drowning.
Now you might find it perplexing that with the issue of climate change being so de rigour in the run up to this fall’s election, there hasn’t been some serious talk and financial commitments towards those dealing with the real, immediate fallout of the problem. But not to worry, because it’s going to be a long hot summer and another soggy spring is not far away. Canadians are finally feeling the heat. And they’re most certainly feeling it in their personal lives. I’m betting the frog finally jumps and people start showing some real gratitude to the forces protecting them as well. Shame it took the earth burning up to finally achieve it.