The Southern Hemisphere is Burning

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The map of the world’s forest fires is quite interesting. First thing I noticed is that our southern hemishphere: South America, Africa, Southeast Asia—is on fire. Why are there fires clustered in these places?

Here are some of my guesses:

  • There’s not enough forest in the northern hemisphere to burn
  • Farmers clearing forest for farmland
  • El Nino and other atmospheric effects
  • Drought
  • Lightning Strikes
  • ?

I’m curious to see what kind of analysis comes out of comparing the year-by-year data. What are the trends? Why is there a hot spot in Portugal?

We haven’t even gotten to what we can or should do about it.

One of the things I now realize about my birth country, the USA, is that most Americans are completely myopic when it comes to their world—they are very focused on themselves and don’t stop to appreciate that other people, other nations have different points of view and different experiences. I was guilty too, in spite of my very left leaning tendencies. Coming to Canada has shown me what it’s like to live in a society that does not collectively have that issue. It is a profound but subtle difference.
It reminds me of the interview with Dr. Frederick Hickling that I heard on CBC Radio’s Sunday Edition yesterday. He kind of blew me away with his completely different perspective on the world. He was talking about Columbus on his way to “discover” the Americas. I am paraphrasing from memory—
Columbus was mad. If you read his journals, it shows that he had a god complex, extreme narcisscism—he was on a mission from God and thought it was his right to take ownership of an entire land, its resources, and its people. We call people who do this thieves and psychopaths and sociopaths. And entire races of people have been victimized and traumatized and in need of psychological healing.

Basically, he has diagnosed European colonialism as mental illness and challenges the rest of the world to treat it as such.

How do you put a culture into therapy? You talk about it publicly. He’s a real-life Dr. Frasier Crane, doing therapy on a live radio call-in show. He told the story of a woman who called in who was stuck in an abusive relationship. He worked with her to help her uncover the reasons why she felt she should put up with living like this. And how being black in a non-inclusive society was a significant contributor to her low self-esteem.

It seems obvious when he puts it that way. I also like it because he’s talking about mental health, which does not get the funding or attention of other health disorders. And his cure is talking, communicating, understanding, not drugging.

And do we think George Bush is going to accept a diagnosis of “grandiose delusions”? Not likely. But at least we can talk about it.