Thoughts on Summer

📌 Late June 2021
June 21, 2021

Summer has arrived; here in the New England woods where Hinnz is based we’ve been getting temperatures in the 80s. We’ve been getting enough rain here – the plants are green and lush. But other areas of the US have not been so lucky.

The Western US faces pretty bad drought. The New York Times had a recent article about it and earlier published some great maps (great as in well-done, not the conditions they depict!) showing the depth of the drought conditions. It’s striking, and we’re not even into the hottest and driest part of the summer yet.

I have lived in several places out West, so the conditions and risk of fire seems more personal than if I had lived my entire life in the Northeast. Shortly after I arrived in the Seattle area it started “snowing” ash from Canadian wildfires, a surreal sight. I enjoyed using the bike path next to the local river, but the smoke was so bad that I couldn’t for a while – I tried going on a bike ride despite the experts’ warnings and ended up regretting it. The smoke burned my throat and turned the full sun into a dim, dark red circle.

Later, living in Oregon, I sometimes dealt with bad air quality due to forest fires, and moved away (coincidentally) just before wildfires ravaged various areas near the I-5 corridor. I still have family members who are living in the high desert out West, prime wildfire country. They’re getting air filters ready and will have the ability to leave if things get bad, but living amid that kind of uncertainty can be exhausting. I’m worried about them.

This American Life had an interesting episode about the day-to-day conditions that firefighters in California face. It’s a tough job and it’s only getting harder with climate change. Although these guys are paid, they’re not getting rich, and it’s hard work. Meanwhile, two-thirds of the firefighters in the United States (and an even greater percentage of the fire departments) are volunteers. Some of them will undoubtedly be responding to wildfires this summer.

It’s hard to mention drought and wildfires without mentioning climate change… where to begin. We need to make some big changes, and while I’m hopeful, I’m not optimistic. Will we get our s*** together? Hopefully.

Given the pace of development and that people everywhere want a good quality of life, part of me wonders if nothing will really change unless a significant number of people in the world die (through natural disaster, disease, war, whatever) and then finally we can get on track with our climate goals. Not that I want anyone to die, mind you – this is just me idly musing about the state of the world. But then it occurs to me that a huge number of people dying might just be interpreted as license for the remaining individuals to pollute more… it’s a tough problem even if you seemingly “solve” it through catastrophe.

I’m working on doing my part by traveling less, consuming less, eating a vegan diet, and committing to more sustainable ways of life. I’ll write more about these efforts in upcoming posts, but in the meantime I’d encourage everyone to take a look at their carbon footprint and identify steps to reduce it.


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