The climate apocalypse is upon us

Here's how you can help the fire victims in the North Bay

We were in Sebastopol a few hours before the fires started. Lovely Sunday afternoon, visiting an old friend, a few cheeseburgers and fries, a walk in the park, a ride in his cool old convertible, some apple picking …. and we figured the traffic would be bad, what with the Blue Angels and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, so we left Sonoma County around 5pm.

Before we went to bed Sunday night, we could smell smoke. I kept thinking someone must be having a barbecue, or an outdoor pit-fire. 

The view from Bernal Hill, where the smoke is so thick you can’t see downtown

By early morning, the news was everywhere: The North Bay, Santa Rosa, wine country … a disaster, a horror. Everyone I know is okay, but a lot of people aren’t — as one friend told me, “just one of those house fires would have been devastating.” And there were hundreds and hundreds.

As I write this, at least ten people are dead. The toll will rise. Homes, businesses, communities have been wiped out, in seconds, with almost no warning. The fire moved so fast that it was impossible to prepare; the best most people could do was flee for their lives.

The human tragedy is enormous. 

At least we are in a state where Donald Trump doesn’t call the shots, where we have the resources to help people rebuild. But it’s going to be a long haul. And it’s scary.

California is prone to fires. Dry grass, heat, high winds, and the slightest spark can set off an inferno. We know that, just as we know that we live in an earthquake zone, and some of us are starting to realize that we live in an area that could be underwater in the not-so-distant future.

There are hurricanes in Florida, and the Caribbean, and the Gulf Coast. The world is full of natural disasters.

But I don’t think it’s just the string of recent weather events, and Trump bringing us ever closer to nuclear war. It’s starting to feel as if we are well into a climate apocalypse.

It’s been a while since I read T.C. Boyle’s A Friend of the Earth, set in 2025. Boyle, one of the greatest writers of our generation, postulates that the environmental movement failed, and that global climate change became a fact of life — everywhere, there are hurricanes and fires and storms that make life pretty difficult for anyone who isn’t rich.

That’s what? Eight years from now? Anyone feeling as if we are on our way?

The Washington Post reports on a new study showing that the human race will be extinct somewhere between 5,100 and 7.8 million years from now. I am starting to think that’s optimistic.

Twice recently I’ve been discussing situations where we know what  problem is, and we know how to solve it. My class at USF has been talking about police violence and abuse; we know how to solve that. There are policies and procedures that work — if San Francisco had the will to defy the Police Officers Association, we could implement the changes we need.

We know how to solve gun violence, too. Gun control laws work; there’s plenty of evidence of that. All that’s missing is political will.

We know how to address climate change, too. We’ve known for a long time. The science isn’t a bit difficult or controversial. We need to make major political changes to stop putting so much carbon in the atmosphere — and the only way that will ever happen is if we start to address global economic injustice.

We can do that. But the only force that can make it happen in government — local, national, and international government — and for a whole lot of complex reasons, much of the world doesn’t trust government to solve problems any more.

Instead, we have crowdfunding for climate refugees because the wealthy don’t pay enough taxes and we don’t have the public resources — or, in places like Puerto Rico, Trump doesn’t want to spend the public resources — to save and rebuild lives.

Meanwhile, California burns.

The air quality in SF is pretty bad today, so if you have breathing problems, these city libraries are open and have filtered air:

San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin St., 9:00 am to 8:00 pm 

Chinatown Branch Library, 1135 Powell Street, 10:00 am to 9:00 pm 

Mission Bay Branch Library, 960 Fourth Street, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm 

Glen Park Branch Libary, 2825 Diamond Street, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

If you want to help out, North Bay evacuation centers desperately need cots, sleeping bags, nonperishable foods, hygiene items etc. You can make a donation here.

The Sacramento Bee has a guide to where to donate here.

The Stud will be accepting donation of goods today starting at 5pm. Here’s what’s needed:

Baby food

Canned food

Diapers (baby and adult)

Inhalers

Toiletries- toothbrush, paste, toilet paper etc

Dog & cat food and litter

Other pet supplies (water and food bowls etc)

Water and juice

Clothes (all ages and sizes) 

New underwear in package

New pillows in package

Clean blankets

The bar also accepting monetary donations that will be dispersed to several local funds.

Please add your suggestions in comments. We will update as we get more information

  • MKR

    Unfortunately the planet cannot support as many people as it has.

    • curiousKulak

      Certainly not if they consume and consume and sh!t it all out and consume some more.

      But it does seem that if we can't rationally limit ourselves and our impact, then Nature will just have to do it for us.

      But try to get anybody to agree on what they're willing to give up together.

      • MKR

        Unfortunately these problems are not just caused by carbon emissions. Despite the damage that our Asshole-in-Chief president thinks he can inflict, the demand for coal is not as high as the demand for cleaner, cheaper energy. And some of the actions he has taken like withdrawing from the Paris climate accord won't begin for four or five years, which means they can be reversed by his whoever follows him. People are way behind the curve in controlling the environmental damage inflicted over the last 50 years and the damage that will probably be inflicted over the next 50 years. IMHO the real problems are overpopulation, industrialization, widespread agriculture and the fact that other species and flora and fauna are being crowded out and becoming extinct.
        You can use a google map to see how high above sea level your present location is. Many San Franciscans are lucky enough to live on top of a hill, which means they won't be under water. People are going to have to live in higher elevations with nearby sources of fresh water, which is what they have done throughout most of history. But no matter what people do, a planet with 9 billion people is going to be a very difficult place to live.
        None of this is really new or surprising, these are themes that you see over and over again in the Bible as well as in Greek mythology and almost every science fiction horror story written. Civilization is an inherently destructive force.

  • sebra leaves

    Don't hold your breath on climate control. Donald Trump just signed a document to bring back coal plants. Not that it will happen, but, he thinks it is a good idea to try.
    The developers and unions could give us all a break and set their sights on re-building the fire damaged properties up north. There is plenty of need for their services up there.

  • Don Sebastopol

    Did you bike rather than drive a car to Sebastopol to do your part to save the planet?

  • Sara

    Damn right, Tim. We need to get serious about cutting off fossil fuels. It won't be easy but there is no alternative. 350bayarea.org is working on this.

  • turk55

    …forget it…americans simply are too immature for this discussion …it will never happen…forget about it.

  • SnapsMcKenzie

    It's really weird to have fires in California in the autumn – what is going on?!?!

  • Don Sebastopol

    I fought the climate and the climate won!