We ask the award-winning author of British Columbia in Flames: Stories of a Blazing Summer to share insider tips on how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle
Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize-winning author Claudia Cornwall is well-versed in climate change. Her latest release, British Columbia in Flames: Stories of a Blazing Summer features interviews and photographs of the wildfire season of 2017, one of the worst in B.C.’s history, and the subsequent environmental consequences. According to the official press release for the book, British Columbia in Flames proves that, “catastrophic fires are no longer an outlier, but an increasingly devastating, global normal in a rapidly changing climate.”
Referring to wildfires as one of the most “urgent environmental issues of our time,” the press release also states that there were: “79,000 fires across the globe this past August, an astonishing 84 percent increase from 2018. British Columbia has experienced an unprecedented number of fires, with a staggering 2,115 blazes recorded in 2018.”
Cornwall hopes that readers of British Columbia in Flames will take away how important it is to protect our forests, and how much we depend on trees. “I saw one study showing that 30 trees are needed to offset the annual oxygen consumption of an average adult,” says Cornwall. “We need to preserve and protect our forests for their sake and ours!”
Environment 911 caught up with the North Vancouver author to find out what she does on a daily basis to help fight climate change and about her hopes for the future…
E911: After writing British Columbia in Flames, what worries you most about the state of the environment today?
Cornwall: Our priority needs to be the problem of global warming. It causes a cascade of trouble, including the fires I wrote about in British Columbia in Flames. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned that various levels of government can apply themselves with remarkable speed to seemingly intractable problems. A major concern of mine is that they lack the same sense of urgency when it comes to global warming.
E911: How do you hope to see the world change in the near future?
Cornwall: Since forests are a key ally in our fight against global warming, we need to pay attention to their health. Old growth forests, in particular, should be protected. Communities in the interface should be FireSmarted.
E911: What things do you do everyday to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle?
Cornwall: I have always tried to reduce, reuse and recycle. And I bake my own bread. Not only is it delicious, but making bread at home means less packaging enters your house. I preserve my own jam and reuse jam jars. We also make our own wine. My husband has been making wine for years—some of his bottles have been reused for decades! Sometimes he uses foraged blackberries in his wine.
E911: What's your best eco-friendly hack?
Cornwall: My favourite eco-friendly hack is the Wonderbag. It's a simple non-electric slow cooker. After bringing a pot of food to boil, you place it in the heavily insulated Wonderbag and the food will continue cooking for up to 12 hours. For each bag purchased in a developed country, a bag is donated to a family in need in Africa. In Kenya, this means that a family using a Wonderbag will use 70 percent less fuel, reduce its carbon emissions by two tons, and save five large trees—seems win-win all the way around!
E911: What do you think the world will look like in 10 years?
Cornwall: If we can apply ourselves to the problem of global warming the same way we tackled the current pandemic, we should begin to see a reduction in carbon pollution. Britain's carbon emissions have been dropping for the last seven years and in 2019, fell to levels last seen in 1888. Progress is not impossible!
Look for Claudia’s latest book, British Columbia in Flames: Stories of a Blazing Summer, available now.