US We fled the smoke out West and just kept going (opinion)
'Everything's gone': Many neighborhoods destroyed as fire, smoke devastate Oregon families, workers and homeless
“This is our Katrina You see it on TV but you can never understand unless you go through it," said one resident of the fire ripping through Oregon.Trump supporters explain why they won't wear masks
This is how you live during a fire season during the sixth month of a pandemic: One day at a time. Our bags had been packed for a while now, our canned goods and go-boxes at the ready. We'd already been through a couple of red flag warnings this year, and we expect more. And: Everyone around us is living this way. Everyone is weary, and everyone does their best to have a stiff upper lip.
Still, last Wednesday, the horrible dark Mordor-red sky threw us. The blood-red, non-dawn, all-day smoke darkness. I moved as if in a trance. I just wanted out. I was packing the kids' bags even before I knew it. I was throwing the contents of our fridge into a cooler.
Experts warn wildfire smoke could worsen COVID-19
Wildfires that have left parts of California and other western states with some of the worst air quality in the world are posing a major threat to people with asthma and other underlying health conditions who are already at greater risk of serious COVID-19 complications.Exposure to wildfire smoke can weaken immune systems and cause respiratory illnesses, and experts worry that combining those effects with the coronavirus could lead to more severe cases, even death. As the pandemic continues to take its toll, having killed nearly 200,000 people in the U.S., the western part of the country is facing dual crises that could have a compounding effect.
Just to set the scene: We were already in the fourth fire and smoke season in a row in the Bay Area. This fire and smoke season has already been severe: It has already arrived early; it has already gone on a long time. The air had been unhealthy for the better part of a month Where we live, what that means is: We've kept our kids in, even when it was hot. We've kept the windows closed against the ash and smoky breezes. We've felt stuffy and lonely and grumpy inside, and dizzy and headachy and light-headed outside. After so much smoke, our lungs feel phlegmy and my daughter complains of sore throats. And: Nobody has real school, nobody can go to anyone else's house, everyone has already done every craft they remember. We are sick of screens, tired of online yoga, aware of each other's fragility. It's already been hard, getting through the pandemic, for six months. It's already been a rough season on top of a hard season on top of a bad one.
'Like smoking multiple packs a day': Hazardous air quality worries West Coast parents
As fire season burns hotter and longer, which increasingly results in hazardous air blanketing the West Coast, what's the risk for young children?Tens of thousands attend Bangladesh Islamist leader's funeral
Still. We had kept finding some joys. We'd been getting by: if we did find that there was a pocket of good air, we'd drive there. Under the smoke, we still live in a place of astounding beauty: and if the air seemed good we'd rearrange things, and drive to the beach or the ocean or a trailhead and find a good hour or two. We'd find a patch of blue sky, or a place where we could smell the sharp smell of bay or let the breezes play on our skin. And we'd be grateful, and inhale, and come back with some strength for being happy.
Despite the horrible air last Wednesday, packing felt almost normal: We had already been planning to leave that weekend. In another year, we would have gotten away to savor the golden light of September, gone camping at the beach, tried to hang onto the sweetness of summer. This year, my only goal was—Just get someplace we can see the sky. Just get someplace where we all can breathe. And that is how last Thursday we hit the road, hoping to stop on the eastern side of the Sierra, hoping to perch in a small cabin my friends sometimes rent out.
Creek Fire ignites fire management debate on 102 million trees killed by beetles, drought
Bark beetles and drought together left 2,000 tons of dead trees per acre in the Creek Fire, but land managers debate whether logging is the answer.But the stage had long been set for the megablaze, one of a half-dozen transforming millions of acres of Golden State landscapes to ash. Droughts supercharged by climate change dried out vegetation, aiding its transition into fuel. And as observers ranging from foresters to Californians living in the wildland urban interface predicted, the state's zealous, century-long fight to suppress fires meant this flammable concoction grew to unstable levels.
However: that was not to be. I did not realize the full magnitude of the smoke blowing down from Oregon. By the time we arrived, the mighty Sierra Nevada Mountains, generally acknowledged to be a geological feature of great magnitude, were completely obscured by falling ash. The air (which is unhealthy after 100) was 353. We had already been driving through smoke for four hours. My husband and I looked at each other. We could not bring ourselves to drive home. We bought some hot dogs at a forlorn-looking stand in South Lake Tahoe. And then we floored it, further east.
We had been driving for eight full hours before the smoke cleared somewhere just outside Fallon, Nevada. Emerging outside it was a bit like being in that scene where Dorothy arrives in Oz, and the world flips back to color. I marveled at the reddish sand, at the delicate sage, at the wide cobalt blue of the sky. The kids got out and were delighted simply to play with rocks at a tumbleweed-filled pullout at the side of the road. We felt awe as the air, like some mysterious, sweet elixir, sank deep into our lungs. And we looked back at what we had just left: a wall of smoke and haze that extended behind us north and south as far as the eye could see. Eventually we got in the car and kept driving east. The wall of smoke receded behind us for hours.
Fact check: Western Canada, Mexico have experienced climate-change linked fires, too
Posts online have questioned whether climate change has worsened fires on the West Coast by citing maps that show no fires in Canada or Mexico.Cooper: Are elderly people now disposable? Look in mirror, Trump
That night we made it to Salt Lake City; the next day, to my in-laws' farm in South Dakota 1,200 miles east, where we could spread out, do laundry, regroup. On the one hand, this seemed like an extreme choice. On the other hand, the air we left stayed bad all week, and has only just cleared, hopefully for a while. And driving away, far far away, just like a far extension of how life goes these days. I thought about how last year, we'd wanted to go to a friend's house for my birthday, but had been evacuated because of fire. And how the year before that, we'd abruptly driven into some other mountains above the smoke zone to wait out the air.
I thought about how forests I love are burning right now, how scientists I know have been tracking the rise in temperature on the old growth forest floor to 1 degree centigrade per decade since 1970. As our human habitat sprawls into increasingly dry western ranges, I thought about how it's a lot to ask all of us — plants and animals, cities and wild spaces—to absorb that change. While I thought about those things,were evacuated from Oregon; and the New York Times ran a piece in America.
Sometimes we might hear the term "climate refugee" and think of someone already on a long, perhaps semi-permanent journey, somebody whose home place has already become deeply unlivable. We might think of families living on an island that is already sinking; farmers leaving fields where crops no longer grow; of young and hungry people fleeing a place where environmental collapse and political instability have already fused in a dangerous alchemy that makes continued civic life impossible.
A young violinist's lonely mission to pressure Russia on climate change
A young violinist's lonely mission to pressure Russia on climate changeMOSCOW (Reuters) - The young violinist holding a sign reading "Strike for Climate" on a Moscow square didn't have long to wait for the police to arrive. His one-man protest lasted just 30 minutes before he was detained this summer for the second Friday in a row.
And, as for my family: No, we are not there. No, that is not us. We can go home later this week, and hope the good wind holds. I do not know if I can say the same for the 500,000 people evacuated from Oregon.
As for us: we had a hard month in a bad year in a series of bad years. We just knew that where we live every year has become more exhausting, more smoky. And we were simply so fatigued by this year's version of the horror show that we drove half across the country to a place where we knew that we could reliably inhale and exhale.
I keep thinking about that enormous wall of smoke, filling the whole sky, receding behind us for hours as we crossed Nevada. I do not know how to explain the urgency and sadness I feel about losing our climate to those who can't be convinced or do not care, or the creeping despair of watching new and continual cycles of devastation overtake the place I love and call home. I know that for so many it is so much worse. But this year, watching the smoke-filled sky recede for hours, the margin between our exhaustion and wider collapse felt as thin as it has ever been.
Edward Said: American Intellectual, Palestinian Patriot, Breaker of Dogmas | Opinion .
Politics have degenerated to dreary trench warfare. We miss thinkers like Said, who challenged prejudice and stood by their principles—but would cross divides and engage in debate even with their most strident opponents.During a lifetime that spanned nearly sixty-eight years and witnessed definitive geopolitical currents and shifts, Said stood apart as one of the world's most incisive public intellectuals. A Palestinian by birth and an American by choice, Said took on this role in the early 1980's following the publication of Orientalism, a text that dismantled European misrepresentations of Islam in its annals of literature.