The future is now

A drought grips Rainy River District.
Farmers can only watch their crops and hay fields wither away. Towns along the Rainy River are helpless as water intake systems suck air.
Docks on Rainy Lake are high and dry, and boaters are hitting rocks previously well below the waves. New invasive species are threatening native fish stocks.
A region-wide ban on open fires is imposed to protect the tinder-dry bush.
Sound like an apocalyptic scene from the future straight out of a science fiction novel? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. This is happening today.
District residents, at least those who responded to our web poll over the past week, seem to be fairly split over whether the current drought is being caused by global warming or simply is a product of our traditional weather patterns.
There’s no question Mother Nature can be fickle around here, but her mood swings appear to be much more dramatic these days. One year, for instance, the government dock at Pither’s Point is flooded. The next year, it seems, it’s four feet out of the water.
As well, the majority of record daily highs and lows here have been set in just the past 25 years.
Clearly, something is amiss.
We all know what we can do individually to help combat climate change. In the meantime, though, it’s high time we started preparing to deal with the impacts.
How will the changing composition of the forest affect our mill? Will enough water go through the dam here to generate sufficient power? Must municipalities that rely on the river for water find another source? Will boaters be able to navigate up and down the river? Should farmers be looking at alternate crops? How will tourist camps cope if our traditional sport-fishing species disappear?
These are not questions and challenges for the future. The future is now.