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.
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:
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:
Diapers (baby and adult)
Toiletries- toothbrush, paste, toilet paper etc
Other pet supplies (water and food bowls etc)
Water and juice
Clothes (all ages and sizes)
New underwear in package
New pillows in package
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