As the fires on the US West Coast grow more intense, and as thousands flee their homes, one has to wonder — are we unable to perceive the climate’s warning signs or are we, as a species, truly this parasitic? Unlike an actual parasite, humans have the cognizance to learn that, for every action, there is a reaction. However, it seems that we as a species are choosing to be ignorant, pretending to ourselves that we aren’t destroying the planet.
So to sum up: The West is burning; the Arctic is melting; the National Hurricane Center is tracking eight major systems; and the WHO reports the largest single-day increase of coronavirus cases globally.
— Christian Davenport (@wapodavenport) September 14, 2020
Here in Louisiana, we have been slammed by multiple hurricanes this year, the latest being Hurricane Sally.
As I was writing this, the National Hurricane Center had a total of five advisories — one for each of the five tropical storms over the Atlantic basin. “This ties the record for the most number of tropical cyclones in that basin at one time,” the NHC tweeted. By the way, there’s a total of eight systems the NHC is tracking.
While the eastern and southern US faced a record five tropical systems being monitored, the other side of the nation went up in flames. The entire West Coast, along with other western states such as Colorado and Utah, are on fire. Check out the Fire, Weather and Avalanche Center for more, or the various apocalyptic images shared on Twitter. These fires on our western coast were so intense that NASA captured a literal wall of smoke.
Ignorant By Choice?
The fact that people are still in denial about climate change is not just befuddling, but alarming. That meme — you know the one, with the dog sipping tea in a burning house while saying “This is fine.” — was made for those who pretend all is well while everything is literally falling apart.
"WH hasn't returned call" from a state on fire sounds like a parody, like the This Is Fine dog became president. https://t.co/VBG3SOPste
— Michael Grunwald (@MikeGrunwald) September 11, 2020
I get it — fear of change and trauma can make a person want to block everything out. Just pretend it away is psychologically appealing. However, our leaders shouldn’t have that luxury — simply because too many lives depend on their leadership. America has been without a leader since 2016 — metaphorically speaking.
— Russel L. Honore' (@ltgrusselhonore) September 14, 2020
In the tweet above, General Honore points out a chilling comparison — many of those forests on the map above are on fire. How many fires does it have to take for us to receive the message? How many hurricanes do we need to endure before we understand that, as the planet heats up, it will be worse for not just the animals and ecosystems that we all depend on, but for us directly? How many flooded cities, burning hillsides, and crying families does one have to see before they finally become desensitized? Or perhaps we already are.
Perhaps, through the desensitization of our species to the plights of others, we are becoming parasitic. Parasitic, that is, on the level of emotional intelligence — in almost a machine-like fashion. These are the thoughts that cross my mind every time a random person in the store makes a snide comment about climate change, tree huggers, and Trump 2020.
The alarms are blaring, but many don’t care — people are still acting as if all is fine. But it’s not. It could be for them, but for those on the West Coast who have lost their homes and livelihoods — and some, their lives — all is not well. For many people in Lake Charles, Louisiana, it is not.
Just remember that your actions do impact others, as well as yourself.
On the left, my quote on the front page of The @Guardian two years ago.
On the right, @LATimes front page today.
Yes, dangerous climate change is here.
It's simply a matter, now, of HOW dangerous we're willing to let it get… pic.twitter.com/DnHEJ5m6v2
— Prof Michael E. Mann (@MichaelEMann) September 13, 2020
Two years ago, Michael E. Mann told The Guardian, “This is the face of climate change.” The fires are the face, but the devastation, the storms, and so much more will make up the rest of the body. The planet will survive this, but if we keep on sitting in that burning room sipping our tea because it’s miraculously still warm, it will still be warm long after we’re gone.
Related story, from 2017: A “Vision of Hell”
Top photo by José Pontes/CleanTechnica
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