The sun hasn’t looked normal here for the past couple of days. While the forecast is for sunny skies, it appears overcast and the sun has glowed a pinkish-orange hue – like daylight harvest moon. It’s clear that the smoke from raging wildfires in the West has drifted here, 2,000+ miles away.
It’s impossible to read stories about and see footage of the sheer devastation to the environment in Washington, Oregon, and California and not feel a profound sadness: lives lost, lives altered, future ramifications as yet unknown. Having grown up enjoying the breathtaking wild beauty of the Pacific Northwest, I grieve for it. I doubt it will ever be the same.
Incomprehensibly, climate change deniers will keep denying that climate change is, at the very least, human-accelerated. As a rational human being, I choose science and my own observations, including the direct impacts to my life (e.g., deciding to cease raising pastured rabbits because the summer heat and humidity became inhospitable) – over rhetoric. It’s clear to me that we really are on the precipice, and that it’s improbable that humans will even do what is necessary to arrest the pace of climate change, let alone reverse its deleterious effects. And people who have stuck their heads in the sand will likely continue to do so.
I feel fortunate to have memories of the way it used to look in the fir and pine forests of the Pacific Northwest, before the ravaging fires that have become common. I can still smell the fragrant Ponderosa pine needles on a hot summer day and taste the delicate thimbleberries bursting with juiciness, staining my fingers. I can see the chubby marmots among the rocks on an alpine trail, and feel the joy of catching dinner – lake trout and crayfish from a hike-in lake – and the awe of watching salmon spawn in a shallow creek. All of these things, true natural wonders of the area, are in peril. And at the rate we’re proceeding in failing to mitigate (or, more ambitiously, reverse) climate change and not changing our habits, it will all be gone…sooner than we think.