Dark Days Living in the Interior
I used to enjoy travelling around the interior western United States. But I never wanted to live there. In spite of it’s towering mountain ranges, mighty river systems, geological wonders and preponderance of National Parks, Forests and Monuments.
I was always glad to get back to the west side of the Cascades, where the air was softer, cooler and saturated with oxygen, not smoke, all summer. And of course it’s beautiful right here at home.
But the last decade or so things have definitely changed.
We spend more time indoors now in the summer…with the air conditioning on.
Actually, it’s recommended this week due to the smoke and haze that is blanketing the Northwest with thick cottony air that stings our eyes and throats. We are surrounded by fires that are pumping out a steady supply of carbon rich smoke. California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia. Some of it is coming from as far away as Russia!
We have had under an inch of rain in the last 120 days here. The woods around our home are an abundant and overflowing tinder box. It makes me wary. It makes me crazy. I know I’m not imagining that things are getting worse.
It’s been far too many summers that I have felt this way.
Being stuck indoors on these long summer days is so irritating to me. It’s why I have never felt the desire to move to a warmer climate, even if the winters are more tolerable. When the days are long I want to spend them outside, like I used to, not inside hiding from the heat until after the sun goes down. What a waste!
There isn’t a pool in the world, lighted, beautifully landscaped, and just a step or two from the back door, that could make that lifestyle attractive to me.
Today I feel like a prisoner. Today, I think maybe we all are:
Prisoners on an earth ship that is precariously out of balance.
In a prison of our own making.
None of us knowing the length of our sentence, or if we will outlive it.
Perhaps it’s a death sentence. Some people think so.
We don’t know absolutely, but we know enough to make educated guesses, and the educated among us have been pretty accurate in their projections. More drought, more prolonged heat, more vicious storms. Less temperate and more harsh conditions. More crop failure, less food security. More wildfires and floods and famines. More political unrest. More refugees. Less diversity. Less life.
Less life. Yes, that is what I’m feeling. The life-less-ness.
I’m living it, and I recognize the irony.
But I have no basis to complain. I’m part of the problem. I’ve lived sixty years on this earth, in a fairly conventional western manner. I am an American, which by birth makes me a master consumer in comparison to people in many other parts of the world.
My attempts at reducing my ecological footprint have been paltry.
I undoubtedly deserve to be punished for the part I have played in the climate crisis we are facing. I feel the weight of it following me around these days the way a guilty man carries his sentence with him, with a sense of the inevitable.
Certainly the Orcas and the salmon and the dolphins and manatees don’t deserve to suffer for my dereliction of care for this planet. Or yours.
Another blogger mentioned reading an article about how studies confirm that the IQ of human beings has gone down in the last few generations. I believe it without question.
Think about it.
WE ARE POISONING OUR ENVIRONMENT.
There is nothing intelligent about that.
And we can’t feign ignorance, not anymore. We know what we are doing.
We are a lung cancer patient continuing to smoke.
We are a dialysis patient continuing to drink.
We are an advanced species with the ability to reason acting in a completely unreasonable manner.
In other words:
Forgive me, but I needed to get that off my chest. Must be the smoke.