The trouble with climate change—apart from, y’know, the mass extinction and existential threat to civilization things—is that it’s happening in slow motion. Climate change didn’t invade Poland, or come hurtling at us from space backed by Aerosmith.
Climate change just is. It pervades everything. It is so ubiquitous that it’s invisible.
What’s more, no one person can do anything to stop it. (Or make it happen faster, despite Donald Trump’s best efforts.) It’s a collective problem that requires collective action, and those actions are mundane: drive less, eat less meat, turn off your lights during the daytime etc.
This is always on my mind, but the ongoing, catastrophic set of wildfires in California have brought it to the fore. Wildfires have always been a part of life in the west, but they are so much worse than they used to be.
Personally, they seem much realer. My wedding photos, from last September, are backed by thick dark smoke. My wife’s family lives in San Diego, and the fires could grow and threaten them. Years ago, in the ’90s or Aughts, a wildfire already destroyed one of their houses. Several of my wife’s cousins lost all their childhood momentos before their childhood was over, and her aunt and uncle had to rely on the kindness of the rest of the family to keep everyone sheltered. They talk about it sometimes. More than you might think, since it was not a happy memory. They all felt powerless.
You probably would too, if your house burned down. Donate to relief organizations, of course, but also try to be more proactive: you should vote for I-1631which would implement a carbon pricing regime in Washington. The only way to even try and roll this back is by cutting emissions and starting to sequester what we’ve already pumped into the atmosphere. I-1631 would cut local emissions, pay for future sequestration programs, and hopefully make carbon pricing part of the national conversation again. The oil companies are already scared of it, so you know it’s good.
Also, just vote in general. I-1631 is on the November ballot. And be sure you vote in August 7’s primary.