I live in Oregon. It snowed in Colorado just a few days after 100-degree temperatures. For those unwilling to see that global climate change is real, the snow was proof positive there’s no global warming. Snow in early September, everything is just fine.
Except it’s not. Our climate reality is not fine. It’s not for the victims of Iowa’s inland hurricane dubbed “Derecho” (every year there’s a new name of some terrible storm we’ve never heard of before). Or for Louisiana, which was recently walloped by a catastrophic hurricane. And our climate reality is not okay for my friends and relatives living in California and Oregon. We here on the West Coast are surrounded by hundreds of fires right now.
I live in southern Oregon. I was up most of the night watching the emergency reports as places within walking distance from our house were being evacuated. The impacts of our climate reality kept me awake and wondering: should I pack our bags? Load the car? Hose down our property? Or at least just let the water run all night? We don’t water in the summer. Which means our grass is ready to ignite. But so is most of the West Coast after staggeringly hot day and gusting winds followed by explosive fires burning everywhere.
The Glendower Fire raged all night and it’s still burning. Phoenix, Oregon has many businesses and homes that have burned to the ground. Parts of Medford and Central Point received Level 3 “Go!” mandatory evacuation alerts. People are worried and scrambling. All this just a few miles away from our home.
Last night my 10-year-old went to bed and feel asleep easily only to wake up from a nightmare. I read the news on my iPhone next to her to help her get back to sleep. Watching our cities burn is devastating. All this piled into an unprecedented year of pandemic concerns, suicides, and trauma.
It was Shakespeare who said: Sweet are the uses of adversity.
But I’ve had my fill of adversity in 2020. I’m sure you have, too.
But that won’t stop the politicians in this country from continuing to deny the climate reality that is, as I write this, burning our state to the ground.
Mother Nature always comes back. Fires can be regenerative for the earth. But not for us humans.
Climate reality in terror: fires like these are just starting
Up and down the West Coast suffocating smoke, searing heat, and the threat of racing fire is our climate reality this week. People are fleeing. Social media is full of people checking in safe, people traumatized, people unsure what to do.
A family in Chico, California that lost everything they owned two years is ago is now packing emergency bags. They, too, have a daughter having night terrors (and crippling day-time anxiety as she looks out her window at a blood-red smoke-filled sky).
Twitter is full of similar stories, all bearing witness this climate reality. At the same time, there are still those who want to continue to exploit the Earth for their own greed, making it so much worse.
But here’s the thing: this isn’t a feature film that ends in two hours. It won’t be over for days, maybe weeks, or even years. For families who have already lost their homes, businesses, and lives, it may never really be over.
The problems of this climate reality have become monumental. In 2006 Al Gore predicted this in his documentary film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” But it’s happening at warp speed. What we were told would happen to our grandkids is happening to us. Right now. The fires aren’t going away tomorrow. The impacts of global warming aren’t going away any time soon, or ever. At least not without a seismic shift in our willingness to find a peaceful resolution with Planet Earth.
I found my moment of peace today. Our homeschooling collective is at our house today. We spent the morning checking in, sharing special things we love, baking together, and learning math and measurements. The sound of children giggling is a balm to me. Our home amid the trees and hills of southern Oregon is a safe place today. But I am all too aware that if the winds shift it could be gone tomorrow.