Terra Verde

‘The Petroleum Industry is a Fire Industry’ – July 14, 2023

bird's eye view of of big billows of smoke rising up from from a forest fire.
File photo of a wildfire in Alberta, Canada. Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta.

Journalist and author John Vaillant’s new book Fire Weather: A True Story From a Hotter World — which chronicles a massive wildfire in the tar sands oil boomtown of Fort McMurray, Alberta in 2016 that forced the entire city of 88,000 people to evacuate— is a gripping disaster tale that comes with an urgent message: Climate change has no baseline, it’s going to keep upping the ante. And, he says, as the hundreds of wildfires currently raging across Canada are showing us — twenty-first century wildfires are a totally different kind of beast, one that we don’t know how to control. Earth Island Journal editor and Terra Verde host Maureen Nandini Mitra talks with Vaillant about what this new fire regime means, how the petroleum industry, which is largely responsible for our climate crisis, is a “fire industry,” and we humans are “a fire cult,” and, on a more positive note, how we are finding new ways of being in the world that tap into Earth’s “non-flammable abundance.”