THE FIRES OF HELL ON EARTH – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #56

This week’s question is taken from Melanie’s “Share Your World” for the week. And my answer is an expansion of what I wrote on that post.

The world is on fire and we will all burn. No need to wait for hell to engulf us. We merely need to wait for the overcooked earth to dry up and burn. I read a post today from NASA and another couple of agencies whose logos I’ve forgotten. It was beyond dismal.

Basically, it said that we have failed to do anything about climate change for far too long and now, only very drastic action will accomplish anything. 2019 was the hottest year on record. Ever. Two entire countries — Switzerland and Khazakstan — have both exceeded the 2-degree-Celsius danger point. Fires swept through much of America’s west and last year was truly terrible, but almost nothing compared to the horror of what has occurred in Australia. Only two entire countries have exceeded the 2-degree-Celsius danger point, but most American cities have reached or exceeded it as have their suburbs.

The ice is melting faster than anyone expected and the sea is rising. The burning of the Amazon rain forest is a manmade tragedy that will help climate change develop faster. The entire world is hotter and where it hasn’t flooded, there are droughts. Flowers are blooming in Switzerland in January and last Friday, it was 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Today it is 50, which is a kind of weather we normally get in late spring. Certainly not in January.

Oh, sure, we might get snow, but we got almost none last year and there has been very little this season. We are getting tick warnings from our local government. I had to put collars on the dogs because ticks and fleas are out there having a great time, bouncing around, injecting diseases in humans and animals.

Forty years ago, I was the English-language editor at the University of Jerusalem’s Environmental Health Laboratory. I worked there for almost five years during which we addressed issues of wastewater, air and soil management. The country was still quite small. I think we had fewer than 7 million people then.

The scientific staff traveled from kibbutz to kibbutz, then to any other area that was under cultivation. The goal was trying to explain why it was so critical we stop using nitrogen-enriched fertilizer and start managing wastewater and figure out safe ways to use it. No one listened. My boss predicted we’d lose our aquifer by 1985. He was wrong. It was dead by 1983.

Flames from the Valley Fire cover a hillside along Highway 29 in Lower Lake, California September 13, 2015. The swiftly spreading wildfire destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands of residents to flee as it roared unchecked through the northern California village of Middletown and nearby communities, REUTERS/Noah Berger

The point is not that I knew something important about our climate before most people were up to speed. It is that we have known about the danger to our environment for 100 years and for at least the past 50 have had top-quality scientists warning us again and again while we just went ahead, worrying about whether to buy the bigger SUV or maybe go for something smaller.

Since the 1970s when we officially declared “Earth Day,” many of us have tried to “do the right thing,” when we could figure out what that was. Most of us recycle, even when we know they aren’t doing anything with the trash, just moving it around. We lowered car emissions. We closed down coal-fired plants. We did something, but it wasn’t enough and it wasn’t done everywhere it needed to be done. Many countries have done absolutely nothing, either because they are too poor or in denial. Australia was one of the countries that did nothing much, not because people didn’t want change, but because the government wouldn’t budge.

Nor was enough done anywhere else on earth. The worst part? Even in places where they have been extremely careful, their neighbors are killing them. Like Switzerland.

To expect the nations of the world to get together and repair the planet so our children and grandchildren can live here is one of those great ideas in which I don’t believe. Humans don’t work together. We can’t get a Congress that agrees on anything, much less a planet. We fight, we kill, we destroy collectively, but repair things? Make things better? When has that ever occurred?

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

We improved car emissions. We knocked out the smog in some major cities. We cleaned up some polluted rivers. Some of us did our best to manage recyclables. Some places did better than others. We didn’t build enough plants to deal with the plastic and paper and we charged extra for products made from recycled materials — which was not what people expected. Reality notwithstanding, we didn’t expect to be charged a premium for recycled goods. A lot of places — like where we live — do not have any recycling plants and we know they just take the recycling and dump it in landfills. Or worse.


We are not doing enough now, then, nor are there plans to do what needs doing. We have no firm plans to do much of anything going forward. It’s a lack of interest. It’s a lack of solid plans killing us. We talk about it, but long before Trump got into office and has been doing his utmost to make a dire situation direr, we were busy making minor changes with vague plans for the future. We’ve been permanently at the discussion stage and never at the implementation stage.

Meanwhile, our planet is burning. If the fire hasn’t come to you yet, wait a while. It will come. First the heat, then the drought, then the fire.

The world’s population has grown exponentially everywhere. For every little green area we plow so we can build a condo or mall we don’t need, birds and other small animals die, often forever. In poor countries, you can’t blame them for trying to create farms to feed their people. Large mammals — like elephants — are antithetical to local farming.

LAKE TABOURIE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 04: Residents look on as flames burn through 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)

I spent five years surrounded by nothing but environmental scientists. I edited their material, sent it to magazines for publication. I read the papers. I understood how important it was. For all of that, I couldn’t imagine it could happen here. That my reality would change. That my birds would die and insects would arrive bringing diseases to kill us. Meanwhile, our way of stopping the insects — which are the direct result of the climate change we’ve been ignoring — is poisoning everything else. We seem to be helping the disaster, not stopping it.

For all I know, we are beyond help. Maybe we can ameliorate the process. Maybe we can stop building on every piece of ground we find. Maybe we can do something to create food for more people with less destruction to the earth. I don’t have answers.

Meanwhile, I have nightmares of the fires and the death of all the things I love.

If this doesn’t terrify you, what does? I too worry about freedom in this country, healthcare, and all that stuff — but if we can’t breathe, have no water, and the air is full of smoke while the sea rises and sea life dies — how much will freedom matter?

Categories: #FPQ, climate change, Earth, Ecology, fire, Marilyn Armstrong, Provocative Questions

Tags: , , ,

32 replies

  1. I am so absolutely frustrated and angered by both major parties in Australia. Neither has really done anything to deal with climate change. We have sunshine in excess and yet no governments are ensuring all new buildings homes or office blocks have solar panels oh South Australia has built a solar farm thanks to help from TESLAR. I am ashamed of my government I did not vote for them but they won I hope people have a long memory>

    Currently the federal government has given ADANI the go ahead to begin construction of a new coal mine in Queensland. They will be allowed to take 12.5billion litres of water out of a river, which is more than all the farmers can use.

    We had millions of fish die in one of our biggest rivers system the Murray Darling rivers. late last year, from low river flow and extreme heat so many ancient huge fish and the young irreplaceable! Yet the government has allowed walnut tree groves in an irrigation area Websters have planted so many hectares. Yet walnuts are not an grow harvest cut down crop, you need to have water on them all the time. They live for so many years, and taking even more water out of our river systems.

    the issue of paying for water rights, to take mega litres out of our river systems is fraught with huge issues of environmental destruction. Impacts on flora and fauna as well as hitting the small farms in the hip pocket as the water rights seem to get auctioned and how can they compete against huge corporations.

    Sydneys water catchment areas are getting so low at times, and now with all the fires the water potentially may be risky. they do not seem to ever have water restrictions. Yet there are rural towns that are at the last level of water restrictions. they are having tankers travel in from out side the area to bring in water. to drink!

    Our government is totally more about selling everything we Australians own or leasing it to huge corporations. Allowing crops like cotton to be grown where cotton should not be grown and taking massive volumes of water into their own huge dams
    Corruption and mismanagement have not helped.

    one great thing out of the horrors of the mainland fires is that a grove or ancient trees the Wollomi pines only known to exist in this one secret location were saved.
    sadly All up, fires in NSW have scorched about 5.2 million hectares, with estimates of national wildlife losses from this season’s bushfires topping one billion animals nationally.
    we have had rain in many areas of bush fire over the last few days. I have no idea what has been happening as I have not watched the news in the last 24 hours.


    • Do you have a blog of your own? Would you like to use this as a blog? I can copy it and post it in your name or with a pen name of your choosing. Trust me, I REALLY know how it feels to be governed by a moron you didn’t vote for who is doing his absolute best to destroy the world. He hasn’t really succeeded yet, but he’s working at it and if he gets four more years, it will go very hard with us. VERY hard. This piece is well written and it would not take me long to create a post from it if you let me.


      • I do have a blog Marilyn I was just caught up last night in all the rubbish so many so called civalised countries are doing and not doing. I am happy for you to create a post thank You for your kind workds.


        • Not being IN the fire, I’ve still been heartbroken about it. I think the dying animals are on the top of the list, but the destroyed forests, ruined towns, and villages – ruined LIVES — and another government that just won’t hear us. Do they think that the money will save them? Or are they all mad?

          Liked by 1 person

          • self seeking madness and jobs for boys its all crap. i try so hard to bury my head in the sand..but the sand is too hot, worse thing is i recall being told in first yr at high school 44 years ago oil was running out and water was going to be a major issue in Australia if irrigation systems taken from rivers for crops that should not be grown like wine cotton and oranges. Back the someone knew something and yet neither political party in gov did anything but let more and more water be taken out. i think our current prime minister a member of Hillsong a cult in my opinion (church huge and growing) seems to think praying is enough. They are all mad.


  2. Fire scares me more than anything. I do think of escape routes. Fortunately we have three doors, as well as windows to get out of. When I lived on the second floor I realized I could jump the short distance from the back porch to the roof next door if the need arose.


  3. Internet live science: “But even without such dramatic doomsday scenarios, astronomical forces will eventually render the planet uninhabitable. Somewhere between 1.75 billion and 3.25 billion years from now, Earth will travel out of the solar system’s habitable zone and into the “hot zone,” new research indicates”. My opinion: We exist on something we call a planet floating in space; seems like any every bad thing exists along with the good.because that is existence. We were never meant to be immortal, either. Supposedly all of this will cease to exist anyhow according to science. My readings as a young person included lots of sci-fi. I remember those stories best where if a person could just get to that one special laboratory they would be safe from the lightning bolts and rocks falling from the sky. I just try and do what I can for the environment and work at finding a bit of peace-which is a constant job. Thanks, Marilyn for posting.


    • I think in a couple of billion years, humanity will probably not be here. In any case, many species vanish or evolve, but they don’t CAUSE their own demise. I think we’ve got a lock on that level of stupidity.

      Eventually, in a couple of billion years is very different than a couple of week from now in a sheet of fire because the world is too hot — because WE MADE IT THAT WAY.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Those pictures graphically tell the tale and are altogether quite terrifying to witness. I have no answers…I wished I did!


    • There is no ONE person with the answers. I keep saying it and scientists say it:: this isn’t an individual problem for a person, group of people, or a single country. All the big countries contributing to this need to stop doing the things causing it. They aren’t doing it. They aren’t planning to do it. They are dithering around or denying that it’s happening.


  5. November 2018 felt like hell in Northern California. I mean real hell with fires and smoke filling the air. Yes CHANGE a needs to happen sooner than later.


  6. “We lowered car emissions. We closed down coal-fired plants.” Yes, until Trump moved into the White House and has undone all that we had done. I feel for our children and grandchildren who will be left to pay the price for our legacy.


    • Oddly, Trump has not (yet) done as much damage as he intended. The car manufacturers did NOT stop lowering emissions and the closed coal plants are still closed, which is why the coal workers are just as out of work as they were before. I’m sure they are pissed off, too.

      Having made all those heavy investments in clean emissions, it wasn’t like everyone was going back to where we were. Those changes to their production facilities cost big money. And — some of them are not idiots. As for drilling, I simply don’t know what’s going on, but much of this is new. I very much doubt we are going back to coal. The problem is, we aren’t going forward either. Gas and fracking are a serious issue and were before. Now, no one is talking about it because the law has been lifted.

      But he hasn’t had time to really kill us yet, but give him another four years, and I’m pretty sure he’ll do a better job. Because there are lots of greedy companies who don’t care about anything but making more money and they will grab on and not let go until forced. And that moron burning down the Amazon forests? Do you think WE’VE got a loser? How about that? Idiotic beyond belief.

      There are lot of morons leading countries all over the world. Their level of stupidity exceeds my wildest expectations. Finally, this isn’t just about what WE do. It’s about what everyone does, here and on every continent. I have serious doubts about the likelihood of all these moronic world leaders getting together to actually do something before it’s too late.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. We are all going to have to make changes and not count on our governments to do the right thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Marilyn. Fabulous article. I’d like to reblog but don’t see a reblog button on your blog..


    • There OUGHT to be. Try clicking on the article itself (the headline of that page) and see if it pops up after that. Because I can see it, but you only see it when you open the post by itself. It’s one of the new things. Annoying and it’s only true for some templates, not all of them.


  9. My comment is a ‘debby downer’ one. And ‘they’ (the powers that be) still refuse to allow people to die with dignity. I’m fairly sure I’ll be around to see this horror come to full fruition. So I’m clinging with both hands to the beautiful days and the nature I can see, here in Utah, right now. I take it a day at a time. And I keep my hopefully fail safe method of escape when the water is gone and there is nothing but barren waste to look at. Maybe ‘the big one’ (the massive earthquake that’s been predicted since I was a toddler) will hit and kill me. If not, I hope God understands that I took the fast train to the next where ever I go. It’s discouraging to realize, that although I’ve been doing my part since 1983 (and before), it’s made no difference. Yeah, dying is the better option…

    Liked by 2 people


  1. Another Provocative Answer – Stroke Survivor

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