There is no texture to the sky today. It’s soft with a dull yellow sun. Not the brilliant blue that often precedes a hurricane.
They say it’s a high-altitude haze from the fires out west. And yet I smell the ash, chasing me indoors – a place I have tried to escape during the pandemic.
No, I’m not in California, or Oregon, or Washington. I am on the East Coast. And yet somehow, a ghost-like layer of smoke has reached all the way across our continent and continues to carry the memories of Pacific rim fires out into the Atlantic.
It’s Day 3 of this relatively minor inconvenience, but it brings home the magnitude of this global event. Just like the fires in California, Australia, Indonesia, and Brazil over the past few years the surface of the Earth is drying out in many places (new record of 130 degrees in Death Valley) and lightning storms are increasing. We are losing control of our goldilocks climate by continuing to poison our atmosphere and not taking the steps that will reduce these threats. Where is the government when we really need them? This is a challenge worth fighting for.
The residue from the West Coast fires will probably be washed out of our skies over the next few days as the residual rains from Hurricane Sally pass overhead. Sally is another climate exasperated event. We won’t get the 30 inches of rain that fell on some of the Gulf Coast or the torrential rains and floods of the Upper mid-West that occurred earlier in the year, but we should get enough to wash some of the remaining particulates from the skies. They will fall into our soils and the waters of the mid-Atlantic states and well beyond.
These events have not directly impacted us here in the East but they have been large enough to get our attention – if only for a few days. They might have impacts on our food supplies and other supply chains, and we will all end up paying for these disruptions somehow. But are these events enough to get us to look at our personal and corporate behaviors and change not just to save ourselves and our lifestyles but to help others as well.
What have we learned from the other great global, man-made crisis – the pandemic. As I attempted to change my behaviors to avoid catching Covid-19, I think I learned a little about myself relative to others. I have had encounters, both friendly and awkward, with people behind masks or not sporting a mask at all. I realized that my actions have not only been about protecting me and my loved ones but I followed the public health recommendations because wide participation is the only way to gain control over the spread of this virus.
I learned that to help fight any of these curses we all need to follow the best scientific advice available. That is the only way to win the fight against a global problem.