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GREEN BEAT: Earth, Wind & Fire – more than just a band name

Langley biology professor talks about the mix of element and what it’s meant world wide
Helicopter carried water bucket in B.C. Wildfire Service response. (Black Press Media files)

By David Clements/Special to Langley Advance Times

The band Earth, Wind & Fire got its name from the astrological chart of band founder Maurice White in 1969.

Earth, Wind & Fire still records and performs to this day, although Maurice passed away in 2016.

White’s astrological sign Sagittarius actually has the three elements, earth, air, and fire, but White liked the sound of Earth, Wind & Fire better.

Wind is very much on the minds of many this year.

Earth, wind, and fire have been a terrifying trio this summer, with fast moving, scorching fires arising from the dry earth in parts of our planet propelled by fierce winds.

The slopes above Maui’s historic town, Lahaina, were very dry when Hurricane Dora passed by 400 miles away, but still delivered winds of unusual strength that rapidly propelled flames to Lahaina devastatingly quickly on Aug. 8.

I have taken many classes from Trinity Western University to Maui through the years.

Lahaina was just 20 minutes down the road from where we stayed, and my students and I spent many hours enjoying all that Lahaina had to offer.

I can’t believe Lahaina is now a shadow of its former glory.

Canadian climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe refers to climate change as a threat multiplier, as seen in Maui where increased tropical cyclone activity leading to stronger winds combined forces with drought conditions.

When the winds picked up on the night of Aug. 17, the McDougall Fire above West Kelowna suddenly swept across the mountainside threatening the homes there and prompting a declaration of a provincial state of emergency the next day.

Thousands of residents were evacuated and hundreds of structures were destroyed.

Then, just two days later, high winds drove the Bush Creek fire in the nearby Shuswap Valley – travelling 20 km in less than 12 hours, something few wildfires ever do, according to Forrest Tower, a fire information officer with B.C. Wildlife Service.

Like Maui, the B.C. Interior has experienced a dry summer, so dry – in fact – that earth has combined with wind producing devastating consequences.

Differences in temperature across the globe bring us wind, and most of the time, wind is our friend bringing us different flavours of weather, including wet weather, which we stillneed more of in most of B.C.

Bring on the rain!


– David Clements PhD, is a professor of biology and environmental studies at Trinity Western University

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