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Climate Crisis meets Storm Chips: No Escaping Reality

From Earthquake Kits to Hurricane Preparations: Navigating Climate Realities

I dismantled my earthquake kit last June. I poured out dozens of expired water bottles, composted the contents of tuna and salty soup cans, donated the very-fun-hand-powered flashlights to the second-hand store, and claimed the pristine work gloves for yard work. In my fantasy world, I do yard work.

Like countless others, I emerged from the pandemic induced disequilibrium with a bold determination to do life differently. For me, different means going home. All that pandemic time to imagine a “new normal,” led me to succumb to an overwhelming need to live close to where I will be buried. (Morbid? Perhaps. But I am a person of the cloth and this is the stuff I think about.)

I convinced my family that upending our contended life in Vancouver was a good idea. I quit my job, gave notice on our outrageously expensive 800 square foot apartment, and dumped the earthquake kit. There was a lightness to my spirit as I drove east in July, Halifax bound.

Moving from the west coast to the east, I was giddy to release my mind of any real threat of an earthquake. I felt something akin to pride as I thought about making the bold choice to not live on a fault line.

New Beginnings: Leaving Earthquake-Prone Vancouver for the East Coast

But now I have this eerie feeling that maybe I shouldn’t have been so hasty, or gloating as I poured those water bottles down the drain. While my former province chokes on smoke, my new one prepares for hurricane season. When did hurricane season become a thing on the east coast? I don’t remember this being a thing when I left a quarter century ago!

Navigating the Unknown: Earthquakes vs. Hurricanes

At least earthquake risk doesn’t increase as the world warms. Hurricanes, on the other hand, are predicted to get more frequent and more powerful. Suddenly my mind is spiralling into a whole new level of climate doom. Earthquakes are a scary prospect as they are so utterly out of my control. Hurricanes are scarier. They’re getting worse because of us, how we live, what we allow corporate greed to do, what we permit governments to not do. I’m not sure I want to assume this much responsibility in determining the state of our future.

I arrived in Halifax during the one hot humid week of summer, between the devastating wildfires, the death dealing floods, and the relentless cloudy humid weeks of pseudo summer. So far, my hundred-year-old house is standing firm and dry, allowing me the delusional idea that I will continue to be safe from the ravages of all forms of “natural” disaster. My greatest weather-related challenge of 2023 has been navigating east coast humidity with naturally curly hair – no small chore.

Climate Crisis on the Ground: When Threats Become Real

This is the crux of the climate crisis on the ground, until it hits you directly you just don’t feel it. I worry, I experience low grade anxiety, but it’s not real until it’s real. I navigated a decade on the west coast and that earthquake kit was all for nothing, or was it? There was one outside the back door and one in the trunk of the car. There were huge container sized kits on every school yard, all serving as visual reminders that I lived in a place at risk, a place where tomorrow’s stability was never guaranteed. Maybe that’s not such a bad place to live.

Maybe my giddy disposal of the earthquake kit was my effort to say I’m moving to a place where life is safer, more predictable. But who was I fooling? Maybe the dis-ease I’m feeling as hurricane season quickly approaches is the confrontation that earthquakes are beyond human control, but climate change is not. It feels like the weather has called my bluff and I have a choice to make – sit in my cool, dry house crossing my fingers or do my part to undo the mess we’ve made of the earth. If it weren’t for the wildfires, I think I’d gamble on earthquakes over hurricanes.

Maybe it’s time to pull out the empty earthquake kit and repurpose it. That way, every time I sneak a bag of storm chips, I’ll remember that the next potential natural disaster has my name all over it.

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