My View from Smoky California

Shelley Tanenbaum
"Smoke Visualization from California Fires" by Stuart Rankin. An Edited NOAA/GOES image of a visualization of smoke from the California fires wafting across the northern United States to over the Atlantic Ocean. Darker colors indicate denser smoke. Flickr/Creative Commons  "Red sky from California fires" by Tom Christensen. "The sun's rays struggled to penetrate the smoke, and at 9:45 a.m. [about when this photo was taken], it looked as if it were dawn." Flickr/Creative Commons

Friends,

This has been a dramatic couple of weeks here in California. Three weeks ago we had a wild and rare thunderstorm—three hours of unrelenting lightning. This storm came from a hurricane 1000 miles away. Climate change? It is hard to prove any one storm is directly linked to climate change, but the pattern of precursors is there: widespread drought, extreme heat, warming oceans.

This hellish thunderstorm started over 500 raging fires. I live on the east side of San Francisco Bay—the fires were to the north, east and south of the Bay. They were enormous – we’ve now surpassed previous records for total acreage burned statewide, and our fire season doesn’t end until November (or the first big rainstorm).

The week of the thunderstorm, we also saw an equally strange storm in Iowa that most of us have never heard of, a derecho. It is a line-up of thunderstorms with hurricane-force winds. This one was especially severe. It looks like a significant portion of the soybean and corn crop has been lost in Iowa and Iowans suffered severe property damage and major hardship.

A week later, Hurricane Laura battered Texas and Louisiana, a few days later twin hurricanes hit the Carribean. So far, this is the wildest Atlantic hurricane season on record.

On Wednesday, September 9, I woke up to a fire-red dark sky that barely lightened throughout the day. Yet another monster fire had ignited to the northeast.

We are living through the terror of climate change and this is just the beginning.

What a year! At the end of May, just a few months ago, we experienced the start of a racial justice uprising. The uprising continues in conversations (and conversions) that are going on in families, at work, in local government, and in public spaces. This is the good news of the year because it will have long-time lasting effects. This is change at the heart to heart level.

A few months before that, in late March we all went into various stages of lockdown due to COVID-19. At least in this country, the pandemic is still raging along with the wild weather.

And we have a critical election coming up.

In these times, I feel blessed to be part of the QEW community. We hold up a vision of living in a world where clean air and water are there for everyone, where we are living in kinship with the natural world and each other. It feels like our work is needed more than ever. Thank you for being part of this community. And thank you for your support – please donate what you can.

Warmly,
Shelley Tanenbaum, General Secretary

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Photos above: 

"Smoke Visualization from California Fires" by Stuart Rankin. An Edited NOAA/GOES image of a visualization of smoke from the California fires wafting across the northern United States to over the Atlantic Ocean. Darker colors indicate denser smoke. Flickr/Creative Commons

"Red sky from California fires" by Tom Christensen. "The sun's rays struggled to penetrate the smoke, and at 9:45 a.m. [about when this photo was taken], it looked as if it were dawn." Flickr/Creative Commons