THE BURNING SEASON – Marilyn Armstrong

Martha Kennedy wrote a piece today that I wanted to comment on. But after a while, I realized it wasn’t a comment. It was a blog. A long blog at that.

Although I have not recently fallen on my head, I feel as if the universe is falling on it. It is as if I’ve am bludgeoned daily. Even when I’m trying NOT to think about it. The fires in Australia, like the fires in Montana and California and other places, terrify me. I live in a heavily wooded area. A quick flick of a casual cigarette could turn us into the next fire zone and it isn’t hard to imagine all of New England burning to the ground. From here on up through Maine, areas outside cities are 60% or more trees. Not manicured, not attended. Just growing. Around here, it’s oak. Further north, it’s pine.

Australian fires as seen from space

Probably the reason it hasn’t happened (yet) is we’ve also had more than twice the usual rainfall for the past few years. Even more last year. August was the hottest month in weather records that go back 200 years.

So while on one level, I can ignore politics, I can’t ignore climate. It has changed a lot and keeps changing. The time we thought we had seems to be gone. My dogs — in January — still need tick and flea collars because it isn’t cold enough for the insects to die. They are still breeding.

It’s going to be one humdinger of a summer for bugs. Maybe this will make the Woodpeckers happy, but it’s going to make life really miserable for other creatures. The lakes aren’t freezing and we’ve only had one 5-inch snow in early December. Now, it’s January. It’s much too warm for snow. Cold this evening, but temperatures in the 60s are expected by mid-week.

LAKE TABOURIE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 04: Residents look on as flames burn through the bush on January 04, 2020 in Lake Tabourie, Australia. A state of emergency has been declared across NSW with dangerous fire conditions forecast for Saturday, as more than 140 bushfires continue to burn. There have been eight confirmed deaths in NSW since Monday 30 December. 1365 homes have been lost, while 3.6 million hectares have been burnt this fire season. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Birds that were common last year have not come back this year. No more Monarch butterflies, either. No butterflies. Lots of spiders. Huge wolf spiders that normally don’t come out of their lairs in the woods have shown up on my back door. Ticks and fleas abound. Today we came back from the doctor and there was a green, lively grasshopper on the front door.

This is not even close to normal. One of our best friends is the senior meteorologist in this region … and even he can’t make sensible predictions. The winds are wrong, the waters are too warm. Cape Cod is full of sharks because the seals have come down into these warmer waters. It used to be that sighting a big shark would close the beaches but now, they just warn you to watch out for sharks.

Fleeing kangaroos. Most of Australia’s unique wildlife is being destroyed

Sea birds are dying, garden birds are failing to nest and the bears — lacking their normal habitats — are wandering south. So far, they haven’t taken down our deck, but they certainly could. I suppose that would be the end of feeding the birds.

I haven’t seen most of our hawks, either. I think we still have a bobcat back in the woods because we have no chipmunks — just that one — or any rabbits. I don’t know if we still have Fishers. I’m pretty sure we have raccoons.

Officials say the worst is yet to come

If a continent burns, we are all in danger, whether we know it or not. They don’t talk much about climate change on the news and I don’t really understand why not. Maybe it’s too controversial?

How controversial can it be when there’s a continent on fire? The U.S. has done a fair amount of burning too. Not to mention flooding from monstrous rains and winds that seem to spring out of nowhere. We have continental sized stormed that start in California and sweep across the entire continent … and then move up into Canada and out to sea.

Smoke and embers

We should be scared. We should be terrified. No place is safe. We have to get these evil assholes out of the House, Senate, and governorships. We have to believe against all prior experience that whoever replaces them will REALLY do a better job. We don’t have any guarantee that even if we sweep this entire group away, the next group will take this climate emergency to its heart and do its best to make it stop.

We can hope, but I think we need a bit more than prayers and hopes. We need to close down the big polluters and figure out what in god’s name to do with all our garbage. hazardous waste, and good old plastic.

The smoke from 1500 miles (2000 km) away turns the skies in New Zealand orange.

There is a very good chance that most of the unique wildlife in Australia will not survive these fires. I personally doubt that any of the large mammals on any continent are going to survive for long. Maybe in special sanctuaries, but not in the wild. I don’t blame poor countries for trying to do what we have done so they can live a better life, but is it a better life? Freshwater and electricity are good … but burning down the forests and killing anything bigger than a chipmunk is just redoing the bad stuff we’ve already done. Is that our goal? Should that be anyone’s goal in these times?

I understand why people are tired of watching, reading, and hearing the news. They are weary with boorish, stupid, ignorant leaders and want them to shut up and go away. I think Trump will lose this election. It won’t be because of the evil he has done but because he has exhausted Americans. His “base” is not a majority. It wasn’t a majority in 2016 and it is less so now, no matter how big his “rallies” are.

My fear is that the essentially conservative people of this country will elect someone who promises to make things the way they used to be. That won’t happen. We are not going backward. Forward will be a long, hard road. If we and other countries continue to put into power people who lack the guts to do what needs doing to keep our planet livable, our grandchildren won’t have a world that’s livable. It’s going to cost a lot of money, piss off a bunch of corporations, and make a lot of rich executives take a smaller profit.

Few politicians have the balls to take on the Big Money people, but that’s what needs to be done. Who can do it? Who WILL do it?\

And I would say this falls nicely under Fandango’s daily word: Scary! If you aren’t scared, WHY aren’t you scared?

Categories: climate change, fire, Marilyn Armstrong, News, Photography, Politics, pollution

Tags: , , , , ,

36 replies

  1. I was scared before, Marilyn. Now I’m terrified..


    • I wonder who would try to do it and whether or not Congress who doesn’t want to spend money on anything that won’t make money for them, will balk — and keep balking until there’s nothing left to save. My ultimate fear is that we are — as a species — too stupid to save our own lives.


  2. We ARE terrified, We ARE scared, we ARE helpless and we have to gather all he hope we can muster not to just give up totally….


  3. its really sad. I’d be terrified if I lived near woods. Those fires are really really scary! And all those poor animals! So sad!


  4. I feel that neither of our major parties really “get it” about what needs to be done. Labor, perhaps would do a little more but they would still probably put the mining and drilling industries ahead. The Greens, if they were ever voted into power might but I’m afraid that once in power even they might not want to upset the status quo. Then again the only chance of them being elected I think would be if the country was completely in ruins. A lot of people still point fingers at the Greens saying that the fires were caused by excessive fuel loads and the “Greenies” are to blame because of their environmental policies. This is bizarre because there are only a handful of Green MPs in the whole country and they have never even won a state election. It’s just convenient to blame them. I only hope that these terrible events will make Australians realise that unless they start to vote with their brains and not their hip pockets we don’t have much of a future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The problem here is simple: a president can’t just pass legislation. Congress has to write the bill and pass it. This is going to be expensive. As soon as the number comes up, everyone is going to get very dodgy. Everyone has little pet projects for their own region and this will eat most of the money that’s available. Never mind that it’s a matter of life and death. Who is going to be willing to fight the big corporations?

      And how do you get our obstreperous Congress to actually agree to something? They haven’t agreed to anything in more than 20 years unless it’s military.

      Everyone is looking for someone to blame. No one wants to admit that last year’s burning of much of California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and other places I can’t remember offhand was the result of a prolonged drought which is also part of the climate change issue. NOT to mention aging electrical wires, careless campers and bonfires, and a few actual arsonists who just like setting fires.

      We need to stop looking for people to blame. The electric companies need to rerun those old wires and that’s just a start. We need a lot more recycling places because we have more trash than we can possibly handle. We need to make less trash, too. Less packaging, fewer plastics. It’s not on individual or group’s fault. Sort of like a mountain of loaded weapons waiting for that finger on the trigger.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t watch news anymore, as I might have mentioned. I gave it up years ago for my peace of mind, so I had no idea Australia was burning. Terrifying!!! And such a tragedy.

    I do watch TV shows that focus on how our planet is changing and the impact that it is currently causing, which is just the tip of the iceberg. Oh, it’s melting, melting, gone…


    • Although I understand no one likes the news, if we don’t know what’s going on, how can we fix it? How do you know who or what to vote for? All the news all the time is a bit much … but none? A whole CONTINENT is burning. People are dying. Animals are dying and may never recover. This kind of “I don’t want to know” may soothe your spirit, but it’s lethal to getting anything accomplished. If everyone just buries their heads in the sand, there will not be a world for our grandchildren to live in. This isn’t a temporary problem that’s going to disappear if you ignore it. it will keep coming at you until your town is on fire. No joke. Not a little local issue.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Believe me, I understand your point. And I do not have to watch the news to know what is going on. Eventually, important news finds its way to me one way or another. It really isn’t possible to hide my head in the sand. I live in a DC suburb.


        • I don’t watch it as much as I read it. It’s easier on the nervous system. If (when) it gets overwhelming, I can stop reading. The TV tends to repeat the lead story endlessly anyway. These days, you can’t miss the news. It’s always coming at you.

          What worries me is how many people REALLY don’t know what’s going on. They are living in another reality. They don’t know lies from truth and they don’t want to know, either. it’s that “head in the sand” attitude that has landed us where we currently are.

          Liked by 1 person

      • I will read BBC news.


  6. Australia’s fires are terrifying and it will remain to be seen what if anything can survive, if not being burned, the horrific smoke that pierces your nose throat and lungs. Daily I see pictures of injured animals begging for help and thankfully many are. I wished I could send you an article I saw that graphically showed pictures of how some of these fires were started. It’s horrific!


  7. Our weather here in South Africa has also changed, Marilyn. Our summers are very hot and we fluctuate between ultra hot spells and then spells of heavy rains and flooding. It is scary and I do believe humans are contributing towards global warming and we need to change what we are doing. This is starting to happen, but to slowly. The US is actually one of the better countries when it comes to going green according to the World Economic Forum statistics.


    • No country is good enough, but by the charts, I suppose we’re better than others. It doesn’t keep our west coast from burning down or the gigantic storms raging across the continent, though. Bizarrely, a lot of countries who have always been good — let’s say Switzerland — are being seriously hurt by climate change because the glacier from which their water comes is deteriorating. You don’t have to make the problem to pay for it anyway.

      This is an international problem. We will all have to jump on board and put our shoulders to the wheel if we want our descendants to have a place to live. Between the droughts, floods, storms, and of course, fires … it’s a very frightening world out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. We know that this is a hazard now is the time to prepare. We need government programs to clear dead fall and scrub to reduce the fire potential.


  9. Thanks for telling it like it is, Marilyn.


  10. To me (opinion only, nobody needs to agree) there are NO politicians in the current batch (of the countries whose politicians I know a little about) with balls big enough. The Big Money people control ALL of them.

    I doubt New England will burn because of the reasons you gave – it’s much too wet there, but the humidity would kill me. Utah will be in danger of burning probably. We had wildfires last year, and too little snow this year (one big storm so far, one fair to middlin’ one and NOTHING else). There is snow on the ground currently, but it is thin and patchy and it looks like March out there. It FEELS like March, I’ve taken to wearing my winter coat only at night if I have to go out, it’s too warm in the daytime to wear it (although I do get stares and comments about “Aren’t you COLD?” I’m not. 65 is my wheelhouse temperature wise. It’s chilly but pleasant. My heavy winter coat probably thinks I abandoned it, because it’s been a couple of years since it was worn.

    Planet Earth and her citizens are screwed. We’re like that frog in the gradually heated water pot….we’re dying and we just are too blind or stupid to see it. Those who DO see are ignored, made fun of, and called crazy. Well I guess soon enough we’ll see who laughs last. Me? I’m hoping for an early demise. I don’t want to watch the destruction..


    • I share your worries. Stump speeches are all well and good, but once they are in office, they need Congress to agree and make good. Trump notwithstanding, a president doesn’t make policy. He can make a godawful mess and maybe get us killed, but he can’t make a policy to clean up the world. And that’s a huge worry. But regardless, everyone has to vote. As it stands now, we are without ANY hope. We need to start somewhere and getting these morons out of office is step one.


    • I should mention that while we are very wet NOW, our normal summers are bone dry from June until late August. A couple of years ago, we had NO rain for two months. The rivers went dry and all the fish died. Now, the weather has changed and it rains all the time, but that could stop too. When we get into summer dry spells, we have controls on how much water we use and what we can do with it and our woods gets dry as tinder. I think we haven’t burned up because people have been careful. One of the most bizarre things is that I have no idea what weather we’re getting anymore. Predictions are just good guesses. Wet today, maybe dry tomorrow — and who knows? We actually had an earthquake yesterday. Not a really big one, but enough to rattle things around.


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