Ash Falling on Cedars

Fires in WA State - screen grab of Climate Central map.

Fires in WA State – screen grab of Climate Central map.

Much of the world is understandably focused on hurricanes Harvey, Irma,  Jose and Katia on the East Coast. Communities are being battered by some of the largest hurricanes ever recorded. Meanwhile, on the West Coast, where I live, there are more than 80 fires raging in Washington state.

Last year was the first time in more than 20 years of living on Bainbridge Island that I remember the sky turning white due to fires in Eastern Washington. It lasted for a day. This year it lasted for weeks. The smoke was so bad that we could no longer see Seattle from Bainbridge, we could smell smoke inside our house and outside the air stung our eyes. Fires were 90 miles away and rained ash down on our island and other parts of the state.

A local paper, the Kitsap Sun, put it best, “Kitsap residents — along with those in the wider Puget Sound region — woke to find a thin coating of ash on their cars. The sun, blood red, struggled to pierce a curtain of smoky air, turning the atmosphere an eerie yellow.”

Screen grab of New York Times article about WA fires.

Screen grab of New York Times article about WA fires.

All living things need forests. They protect the world’s water sources, and act as the lungs of the earth, taking in CO2 and exhaling oxygen.

For days we woke up to an orange sun and white sky. It felt apocalyptic. And, for me, someone who is acutely aware that the C02 from the forest fires is a horrible feedback loop. They release sequestered C02 into the atmosphere, heating up the world, drying out underbrush, making tinder for wildfires and all but ensuring more fires next year.

Clean water and air are vital to every living thing on this planet.

I know people are connecting the dots, but I think we need to continue to pull back and look at our entire earth as one biosphere, one living organism – only then can we see it is suffering from our waste byproducts (C02, plastics, removing wetland habitat, burning rainforests, green house gases, bleaching coral, polluting both water and air, etc.). Maybe then we’ll be willing to work together to reduce our impact on our life support system?

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