Temperatures broke records in the Cowichan Valley in June 2021. (Andrea Rondeau/Citizen)

Temperatures broke records in the Cowichan Valley in June 2021. (Andrea Rondeau/Citizen)

Editorial: Old growth logging, heat waves, climate change all connected

It’s time to face the future and take real steps to make sure it’s one we can live with

It’s all interconnected.

As we come out of the worst heat wave the Cowichan Valley has ever experienced (twice as disconcerting since it happened in June, just the beginning of summer), it behooves us to reflect on the bigger picture.

Last week the community of Lytton, now almost entirely gone after a wildfire ripped through it, registered the hottest temperatures ever seen in Canada. The Cowichan Valley and many other communities in B.C. were not far behind, with the thermometers registering unprecedented leaps into the 40 C-plus range. I think most of us would agree that the weather last week was extremely uncomfortable if one had to leave the sanctuary of air conditioning, and that these kinds of heat waves are undesirable for our communities.

Which brings us to climate change. Extreme weather events like this heat wave are exactly what scientists have been predicting would be the effects we would feel as climate change progresses around the globe. There can be little doubt that climate change is the culprit here as we hit new highs.

Also continuing in the news last week were the protests against old growth logging taking place west of Cowichan Lake. We are sad to see protesters pitted against RCMP officers and loggers. The latter two groups are just trying to do their jobs, while the former are fighting for the future of not just this one forest, but of the planet. Think that’s hyperbolic? Consider that clearcutting our forests as we have been doing unthinkingly for decades is undoubtedy contributing to climate change.

Much like the depths of our oceans, which we pollute and dredge largely without care, we are only just beginning to understand the depths of our old growth forests. We are only now coming to understand how the trees communicate not just with each other, but with everything around them. Simply replanting trees cannot recreate these unique ecosystems, teeming with life. We should not be cutting them down. Period.

Logging and all of its associated jobs are important. They are important to the people who perform them and the communities of which they are a part. But these must be limited to second growth forests and younger. Some call for “balance”, claiming that there are yet still hectares upon hectares of old growth in our province. That may be true, but when one considers how much we have already stripped, we can see that the balance was tipped years ago.

Valuing our old growth as nothing but logs is antiquated thinking. It’s time to face the future and take real steps to make sure it’s one we can live with.

Editorials