Montana is burning. So are many other states in the west, but I’m in Montana and I can see first hand that Montana is burning. Already it’s gone on far longer than normal and has reached the point where I’ve almost become used to it.
If you can call the continual low-level headaches, scratchy throat, and cough we’re all fighting “used to it.”
When I find myself complaining too much I remember there are people losing their homes and I should be grateful I’m not. I’m also thankful there are those healthier than me who are helping fight the fires and treat the injured.
Last I counted there were eight separate fires ringing Missoula. I’m in no immediate danger, but they’ve called for evacuating Seeley to the north and the only change each day is the air’s shade of brown.
Hot, dry weather year after year. Meanwhile, the glaciers in Glacier National Park grow steadily smaller.
This all came to mind today on my way to the store. I stopped while children disembarked from a school bus, their hazy figures gray in the smog. The mountains in the distance…well, I haven’t seen them in a while. A long while. Not clearly, anyway.
A few minutes later I passed college students on bikes—wearing masks. Each year the glaciers shrink and less snow accumulates. Each year there’s more drought, more heat, more fire. After 2015 I stopped taking pictures of the smoke.
Meanwhile, I hear the same thing is happening—in Greenland.
So, instead of investing in alternative energies and creating jobs in those new industries—we fight fires, homes burn, people die.
My heart goes out to all who are suffering, have suffered, or will continue to suffer the wrath of Harvey. It’s difficult to wrap my brain around such flooding, but it’s easy to grasp the extreme levels of loss that will echo in the region for years into the future.
In the face of rising seas and more powerful storms the infrastructure wasn’t up to the job and the price is, and will continue to be, incredible. Lives are being ruined. How many Katrinas, how many Harveys before we deem it cheaper to be proactive rather than reactive?
How many more lives would be saved?
Meanwhile, Irma is racing across the Atlantic and has worked herself up to hurricane status. It’s far too early to guess her future, but I dearly hope she isn’t prone to big brother Harvey’s temper tantrums.
This is merely the tip to the melting global warming iceberg. Extreme weather.
And who will thrive in the new world of extreme change? Bacteria. I thought about that, too, while I watched those children run home through the haze. I remembered the bacterial infection that ravaged my lungs eight years ago. I recalled the biopsy they performed a year later when they finally figured out what was going on.
Neither the local lab or a distant one were ever able to identify all that was present in my lung tissue. That’s right, they were unable to identify what almost killed me.
Is that the future? Our children dying from illnesses we can’t imagine today? I hope not.
Meanwhile, there’s rebuilding to do: homes and lives. In the long term there’s new industries to nurture and infrastructure build. Sounds like worthwhile endeavors to me, especially because they’d create jobs. I’m sure there’s a ridiculous project somewhere we can scrap to find the money.