Widespread smoke is just one of the symptoms of how climate change is degrading the quality of life for many people on this planet. In the article described below, the author wrote that a researcher told her that “Wildfire is literally making it unsafe to be pregnant in California.”
Here are excerpts from the article, titled, This Isn’t the California I Married — The honeymoon’s over for its residents now that wildfires are almost constant…
…The climate crisis has caused us to get lost in time and space; we need to dig ourselves out of nostalgia and face the world as it exists. As he [Alex Steffen] explained to me in his confident baritone, yes, California, and the world, are in bad shape. But the situation is not as devoid of hope as we believe. “We have this idea that the world is either normal and in continuity with what we’ve expected, or it’s the apocalypse, it’s the end of everything — and neither are true,” he said. That orange sky in 2020? “We’re all like, Wow, the sky is apocalyptic! But it’s not apocalyptic. If you can wake up and go to work in the morning, you’re not in an apocalypse, right?”
The more accurate assessment, according to Steffen, is that we’re “trans-apocalyptic.” We’re in the middle of an ongoing crisis, or really a linked series of crises, and we need to learn to be “native to now.” Our lives are going to become — or, really, they already are (the desire to keep talking about the present as the future is intense) — defined by “constant engagement with ecological realities,” floods, dry wells, fires. And there’s no opting out. What does that even mean?…
Relinquishing the idea of normal will require strength, levelheadedness, optimism and bravery, the grit to keep clinging to some thin vine of hope as we swing out of the wreckage toward some solid ground that we cannot yet see. “We’re no longer dealing with a fire regime in the woods that responds to the kinds of mild prevention and mild responses, the sensible responses we have thought about, and that thought alone is a crisis,” Steffen said. “It means the lives we had we no longer have.”
The small settlement where I live is the result in many instances of folks coming to these conclusions. About half the folks in our community are native New Mexicans, mostly with Spanish surnames. Next two points of origin are California and Texas. Then, the scattering of lifetime hippies, non-conformists whose live are anchored in philosophy or art, not necessarily roots. Yup. That’s me.
Most of us have meadows, remnants of the grasslands where we built our homes. I suppose if the bosque at the bottom of our valley ever became dry enough to be a fire threat, we’d have to pass a regulation requiring collective mowing every summer’s end. That would help a lot.