Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Raging Wildfires

The summer of 2018 I went to Silicon Valley & San Francisco as part of a school grant I was awarded in order to visit the birthplace of technology. I wrote about it extensively after my return. (See here, here, here, here, here, herehere, and here.)

With that trip at the start of August, the Carr Fire & Mendocino Complex Fires of California (Mid July to August 2018) were very much on my radar. Amazing how things like that always seem to perk one's interest when they directly could affect you. Due to our travels, we were never in harm's way, nor did we see any of that national disaster (as it was deemed August 4, 2018 in Norther California). The Mendocino Complex fire burned more than 459,000 acres of land, making it a California record holder as the single-largest recorded fire.

Again, I count my blessings that we were totally exempt from any of that at the time. Living on the East Coast of the United States, we were even farther removed, tho certainly saddened by the injury and loss of landscape, animal life, businesses, and more from these fires.

Likewise, for this environmentalist, it was yet again a signal that climate change was indeed a real thing, and these natural disasters were only further evidence of a planet in danger.

Fast forward to January 2020. This simple infographic, amidst the news of Australia's current wildfires, caused me to stop dead in my tracks. Wildfires that raged for a long time before they made national news, at least here in Mainstream USA. The same for the Amazonian wildfires, and I still don't recall the Siberian fires making news on my TV channels.

We all have the tendency to be egocentric, focusing on our own things. From a cultural perspective, that concept is called enthocentlrism, and from a country's perspective, it's often called nationalism. Some of it is a natural tendency to view things from our own perspective. Yet, here in today's world, where the Internet crosses 'round the world and back again in a nanosecond and we are all technically and technologically connected, we all need a global perspective. Not just that NIMBY: Not In My Back Yard perspective.

The view from my global perspective is that poor Australia is on fire in a way we have not seen before!

Social media has drawn our attention by showing not only visuals of Australia's fire, but also of darling koalas and kangaroos, clutching to their caregivers. When our heartstrings are pulled by cute animals (some of which are nearing extinction), we all do tend to take a little more notice as our heartstrings are pulled. 

Likewise, social media (because I follow news outlets and environmental groups) has led me to articles such as these:
  • New York Magazine's "Global Apathy Toward the Fires in Australia Is a Scary Portent for the Future" by David Wallace-Wells (December 31, 2019) ~ This article details much of what I've mentioned above--how the fires have raged on for months, yet it took a long time to get mainstream attention. How climate change issues are often a secondary (or tertiary) news item, how climate deniers strike it up as unrelated or even fake news, and how horrific situations become normalized. (Take mass gun violence, for instance.)
  • CNET's "Australian Bushfires: Everything We Know and How You Can Help by Jackson Ryan (January 3, 2020) ~ Just as the title describes, this article gives a lot of the specific and logistical issues of the fire. At the end, the article lists nearly 30 ways you can help, including links to organizations where you can directly donate.
Sending prayers to all in Australia, a beautiful country I visited years ago. May we come to a swift closure on these red days and may we as global citizens do all that we can to help with this climate crisis.

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