It’s so exhausting, the news. I just don’t know where to go with it any more.
What is one to take away from these details?
“As wildfires have become hotter, more intense and more destructive in recent years liberals and conservatives have been locked in a debate over the reasons. During a visit to California in September, Mr. Trump said ‘I don’t think science knows’ what is happening when the state’s secretary for natural resources pressed him on the changing climate.”
“‘One camp is saying it’s all climate change driven, and the other is saying it’s all forest management,’ said Malcolm North, a forest ecologist at the University of California, Davis. ‘The reality is that it’s both. I get kind of frustrated at this all-or-nothing type of approach.’”
“And wildfire experts say Mr. Trump’s analysis of the causes of the blazes [he’s in the ‘forest management’ camp] is problematic because most of California’s forests are on land owned by the federal government and their maintenance largely falls under the responsibility of his administration.”
Reminder: this is the 21st century. We were supposed to have flying cars that fold up into a suitcase. And robotic maids to clean up after us. (Ok, that’s from The Jetsons, but still, it’s the image of the future that I grew up with.)
We can’t even put our finger on how to measure the size of the problem. Acres? Dollars? Lives? If lives, are we talking about only human lives, or animals too? Remember in Australia, millions of animals were killed, some losing their entire habitats. And among the human lives, do we differentiate between firefighters and civilians? Between Democrats and Republicans? Is one kind of loss worse than another?
If we’re talking about acres, are they federal, state, or private acres? Same question with dollars. In statements like “Infrastructure damage estimates from the fires had exceeded $229 million, Mr. Newsom said,” what is being included here? This figure seems equivalent to the value of, what, maybe 100 homes. 200? Or is it one bridge and seven utility towers?
Whatever it is, it’s terrible. But is that a national emergency? A federal disaster? Why was this single, solitary, cost figure placed in the article, when it confuses more than it explains?
Between the actual things that are happening in the world, and the sometimes amazing responses to them (I don’t mean that in a good way), from the people who are supposed to respond to them, it’s easy to come away from it all with a feeling of doom. Not impending doom, like something is about to happen. But immediate doom, watching it happen, right now, and we’re in it, in front of it, under it.
And the California fires represent just one of those things. What about the teacher in the Parisian suburbs who was beheaded – beheaded! – in the street – in the street! – for having shown the recently republished cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his students? What about the coronavirus? Or the election meddling?
I’m having difficulty wrapping up this article. Tying it all together; drawing some kind of pithy conclusion. Except to share these words from my mother (and yours, I hope): “Tomorrow is another day.” As bad as the American Civil War was, there was a day after. A week, a year, a decade after. As bad as WWII was, there was a time after. As bad as Covid-19 is (and the loss of American lives to this virus are well into the range of deaths from those other two events), there will be a time after. A post-Covid era. A post-Trump era.
A post-climate-disaster era? Maybe not. But an era in which we at least look at it together, and take steps together, each giving a little, and demanding a little too, but none so much that there are winners and losers, as it feels today… This, I think, is an outcome that we can legitimately hope for. And that hope may be just enough to get us through this day, ready to face another.