“Global climate change, over-consumption of natural resources, terror-fueled wars that led to xenophobia—these were our ancestors’ mistakes. Nations were starving to death, and people were being massacred in the thousands by radicals, and do you know what the other nations did?
They did nothing.
The second they stopped caring for each other is when they sealed their fate. They closed their borders. Instead of trying to save, they instead sought to preserve what they had left. This forced nations to invade in order to survive, and nuclear weapons no longer became a deterrent but a catalyst, ultimately creating a war that ended their world.” – Courtney Praski, The Seven
Watching what is happening in California is heartbreaking. I lived there half my life and it will always be another home to me. But I was especially sad to hear about the town of Paradise. I had the pleasure of staying there at a friends house years ago. It was a beautiful place full of iconic tall pines and majestic volcanic geo-formations. It has been all but destroyed.
When I lived there I saw the fire season extended, year after year, until it became the entire year. It, like so many other perpetual disasters, has become normalized. But the contributors to it have also been normalized: rampant development eating up chaparral covered mountains and verdant canyons, continued extraction of fossil fuels, no long term plans for mass transit apart from auto. I lived through what I thought were apocalyptic fires where I saw ash falling from the sky like snow under an orange tinted dome, and rings of fire licking the edges of the hillside only a mile from my home. Climate change is writ large across the California landscape.
At least 200,000 people have been ordered to evacuate in California, and there have been at least a dozen deaths. But it was only a year ago fires scorched Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino, killing dozens and leaving scores homeless. Following the fires were the floods that washed more homes, and people, away in waves of mud.
Catastrophic fires churned up vast swaths of the Pacific Northwest this past summer, leaving a thick haze over the continent that rivaled the choking and toxic pollution of Dehli and Beijing. Scores perished in fast, massive blazes in Greece and Portugal this summer at the same time floods were ravaging Kerala, India and West Africa. Recently, storms and floods have lashed and inundated parts of Italy, including Venice, as well as the Middle-East and Gulf States.
For any reasonable person the dire reality of climate change cannot be denied outside of a willfully obtuse and belligerent ignorance. And yet such incredulity persists. It doesn’t help that the president of the US once said it was a Chinese hoax. Indeed, the megalomaniac in the Oval Office took time out of his day to blame California for “mismanagement” and threatened to pull federal funds. Nero himself would not have stooped to such a public display of sadism regarding the suffering of thousands of his own people. But Puerto Rico learned about this callous disregard firsthand over a year ago.
Each month opens a new and terrifying chapter in this climate changed world. A new catastrophe to be normalized and then forgotten and a new spike in fascist cruelty that accompanies it all. The job for us then is to refuse to normalize, refuse to forget, and to fight with all we’ve got for the world we see slipping away before us.
Kenn Orphan November 2018