The Next Choice

Here we are.  Wildfires consumed 9.7 million acres in the United States in 2017.  As I write this, thousands of acres are on fire in California, hundreds of homes have been burned to the ground, an entire town — people, animals, buildings & homes — is gone.  It’s just gone. Beyond the 76 lives lost in Paradise, California, first responders are looking for more than 1,200 people who are unaccounted for. Thousands of animals and people have been evacuated. Most of the state is under air quality advisories. My four year old nephew who lives in San Francisco, has not played outside for the past week because the air is too smoky.  

It will probably not come as a surprise to many, but the number of acres burned in the United States in 2017 came close to breaking a record. The numbers are preliminary and could change over the next few weeks as the data is finalized but the acres burned in the 50 states, 9,781,062, was the second highest since reliable records have been kept. That is 49 percent higher than the average over the last 10 years.

Wildfire Today, 10 January, 2018

I lived in Flagstaff, Arizona for three years, and during that time there were two wildfires in Oak Creek Canyon and many prescribed burns in the region. Oak Creek Canyon is a river gorge between Flagstaff & Sedona, Arizona. It is a stunning, steep canyon considered a smaller cousin to the Grand Canyon. The smoke from wildfires can be pervasive causing lung congestion even indoors. Though prescribed burns are planned out, winds can change on a burn day.

Smoke Drift – California Wildfires – 14 November, 2018 

Are we ready yet to make a shift? Have enough trees burned, enough people & animals died?  In the Camp Fire alone, more than 10,000 structures have been burned. How much will it cost to replace those buildings? How much does it cost to rebuild a town?

Oh, the insurance companies will pay to rebuild those homes, and the state will pay for this, and the federal government will pay for that.  Wait, we pay the state and the federal government. We pay the entire bill. Is that how you want to continue spending money?

What causes us to make the next big choice? What has to happen for you to choose a new path? When is the moment of change? What brings us to an epiphany? Are there specific steps needed to make a fundamental change for the better? Does this happen in just one moment? Or, has this change been calling for a long time?

Do we require hitting a brick wall or falling off the edge of a cliff before enough of us come to knowing? Does it require all of us?

What does making a fundamental change for the better require?

There are some who believe that we are now beyond the point where Earth’s climate will shift back.  There are some who believe the planet is now compensating permanently for the effects of global warming.  The Earth will be different from now on. Google “global warming”, and the search results read page after page of studies & articles concluding that humans are the main cause of climate change. Even if there is more to learn about the science of global warming, aren’t we beyond debating on principle and will take action?

Officially I do not have the education to make an informed pronouncement on this subject, but what I do know is that the earth can heal.  And, we can be a part of that healing.

If the root cause of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels which has produced an overabundance of carbon dioxide, then I know at least some things I can do to help. I pledge here that I will research this issue and share what I learn. I will help in that way too.

It is my hope that we choose this moment to be our epiphany. It is my hope that we choose to learn from these horrific fires and are inspired to make change. Let’s make this the last time we hold so much of the responsibility for such a catastrophic event..

Sperry Chalet in Glacier National Park was destroyed by fire, August 2017.
The remains of the Sperry Chalet after it burned in the Sprague Fire, pictured on Sept. 1, 2017. Courtesy Glacier National Park

Can we make a few changes now, then a few more and a few more? Instead of cleaning up such a substantial mess, why don’t we direct our resources out ahead of the crisis, out in front of the fire or the hurricane? Wouldn’t that make more sense than planning to evacuate from the next crisis?Maybe it’s when something pierces your heart.  That is when the epiphany happens. 

I am ready. I am ready today. I am ready this minute.

Because I don’t want to hear again the story of a border collie who was left behind.  Ella protected the one house left on the block in Paradise, California. She waited on the steps of the only home left in the neighborhood that didn’t burn down. Her toes were burned, but for two days she waited — alone — for her family to return.

Maybe it’s when something pierces your heart.  That is when the epiphany happens. 

Living in Flagstaff, Arizona, I witnessed prescribed burns and wildfires which affected my breathing – congested lungs, irritated throat and coughing.  I now use a FreshAir Surround air purifier from Vollara.  I am so grateful to have found this technology as we in Minnesota dealt with smoke from the forest fires in Canada most of the summer of 2017.  To learn more about the Space Certified technologies used in the FreshAir Surround, click here.

Be well 🙂


Sources: Wildfire Today, USA Today

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