Those of us who make the West Coast our home have come to believe that the very earth is on fire. Millions of acres of burning forestland has thrown up a choking cloud that has now reached Europe. Visible from space, it resembles the plume given off by a world-darkening super volcano. The body count is still being tabulated but is likely to grow as many of the hardest hit areas continue to burn. Drought, freakish high temperatures and insect infestation have left our forests vulnerable to causes both natural and human.
Windstorms. Farmers fighting to keep their farms viable. A rare Category 5 hurricane that battered the gulf states. The human and financial cost is getting harder and harder to calculate.
We have known for decades that burning fossil fuels at least contributes to if not directly causes these catastrophes. In the early days of our self quarantine we saw the direct results restricted driving patterns was having on air quality – with many previously affected areas reporting the best air quality they’ve seen in years. Scientists warn that the “tipping point” is near, if not already reached and despite all this we continue to burn fossil fuels while finding ways to block our necessary transition to renewable fuels.
A clear thinking person might reason that a responsible utility and related industries, knowing of the consequences caused by their choice of fuels, would move aggressively to transition to something more sustainable. Instead we have seen lies, lobbying, foot dragging and more excuses with very little progress actually made.
We keep waiting for someone either in government or the business sector to raise their hand and say “enough,” but that response never comes as instead we continue to devote ourselves to drilling techniques tied to the poisoning of our aquifers and – unbelievably – actually triggering seismological activity in areas where earthquakes were previously unseen.
For years a vocal cadre of politicians and paid supporters denied the science behind encroaching climate change, apparently to ensure that the drilling and driving continued and that people who had made billions from those activities continued to reap their profits.
They have been quiet lately. And we just continue to burn.
Ellen Cisneros/ Concord