Fire Weather (2023) presents a compelling biography of The Beast which drove 88,000 people out of Fort McMurray in May 2016

The book I refer to is Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast (2023) by John Vaillant.

1952 Chrysler Windsor Deluxe on display at Car Show, Stratford, June 18, 2023. Jaan Pill photo

A blurb reads:

A stunning, panoramic exploration of the symbiotic relationship between humans and combustion and why we are entering a new century of fire. In May 2016, the city of Fort McMurray in Alberta – the seat of the Canadian oil industry, from which the U.S. derives almost half its oil imports – burned to the ground. The unprecedented disaster forced 88,000 people from their homes and showed us what the fires of the future look like: increasingly destructive, already here. While the chemistry and physics of wildfires remain unchanged over the last century and a half, climate change has created conditions that give fire exponentially more opportunity to burn. And yet there is no other natural force or element over which we have such a compelling illusion of control. Fire yearns, above all, for freedom, and takes at any opportunity and at any cost. In our unchecked consumption of fossil fuels, it has enabled the same impulses in us. In masterly prose and cinematic style, John Vaillant weaves together an enthralling, multifaceted story of how Fort McMurray revealed a new normal of fires burning longer and with greater intensity than at any other time this planet has ever known. From the large-scale histories of North American resource extraction and climate science, to the intimate tales of lives scarred by the Fort McMurray disaster, Valliant’s urgent work is a book for – and from – our new century of fire.

Detail: 1952 Chrysler Windsor Deluxe. Jaan Pill photo

The message in a nutshell: A fire in a boreal forest is a part of Nature

John Vaillant notes that

  • A fire in the boreal forest is as certain as death. Fire is the principle mechanism by which the forest regenerates itself.
  • Settler colonial settlements (unlike Indigenous communities going back 10,000 years) live and grow by different means and rhythms than boreal forests and wildfires.
  • Alberta’s bitumen industry follows a similar growth pattern as a forest fire, with market forces standing in for weather.

Detail: 1952 Chrysler Windsor Deluxe. Jaan Pill photo

1952 Chrysler Windsor Deluxe

Detail: 1952 Chrysler Windsor Deluxe. Jaan Pill photo

Once a year a car show is staged in Stratford  just north of the Festival Theatre. This year’s event took place on June 18, 2023. For the current post, I have focused on one car, the 1952 Chrysler Windsor Deluxe. It’s possible the Chrysler featured at this post was originally black. Alternatively, perhaps this was the original colour.

Detail: 1952 Chrysler Windsor Deluxe. Jaan Pill photo

The car show that I refer to was bigger this year than last year. Last year’s car show at the same location is featured at a previous post:

Enjoyable, informal vintage car show took place in Stratford on June 10, 2022 (Another, larger car show took place on Lakeside Drive on June 19, 2022)

The point about cars and petroleum is that they make for a good time and they also appear to be leading toward a dead end for humanity. That’s the point of the fine book that I have highlighted at this post.

Stratford and petroleum

A previous post about Stratford (and its relation to petroleum as a source of combustion) is entitled:

The R.M. Ballantyne Ltd. textile plant was built by a thread company, which ran into financial difficulties, and was first occupied by a motor company which built a bus, that startled the horses

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