Politics of a Forest Fire

by Carrinicole

With my windows shut and air purifier on high, I went to bed last night without spending any time outside. I wake up this morning, eyes burning, nose stuffed. Its fire season. The worst of them.

Nothing about this feels normal, but then again, what is normal about 2020. Los Angeles doesn’t have the apocalyptic orange skies of San Francisco, but we are in the same tinderbox.

When my family asks me about the fires, I can speak in the immediate: how challenging it is right now. It’s hard to breathe. How scary. We are at the whim of the wind. But I can’t speak in the macro, at least not with my dad. Because climate change inches into political territory.

This age of Fox News and the Trump presidency has been the most challenging terrain to navigate with my family. With a father that worked in oil & gas and who has limited interaction with the outside world, the walls of his fishbowl are thick and opaque. Every day is a practice of exercising love towards someone whose opinions and views I passionately disagree with.

I can imagine I’m not alone. I see what’s happening around me, the climate change, the racial injustice, the glass ceiling, the me too movement, the violence and apathy that is Trump presidency. But all he sees is the spinning of Fox News. He didn’t use to get so angry at my disagreements with him. I blame them for that.

My dad believes that humans haven’t affected climate change – that the planet has its cycles. We’ve had ice ages and tropical periods in the past, and we’re just heading into transition in our climate. I agree with climate cycles, but I also see the overwhelming evidence from scientists around the world showing that we are speeding up the process by our overpopulation, overindustrialism, and lifestyle.

Regardless of what your political views are surrounding climate change, you have to admit life on earth is getting less tolerable. I wonder what the loss is if we move towards a more sustainable economy and lifestyle? Taking care of our planet, creating new industries and jobs, doing everything we can to sustain life for our current and future generations. I hear fear when I hear a negation of this – fear of newness, fear of risk, fear of transition. Fear of compromise.

Now that our family has a new generation who are growing up with fires, hurricanes, and remote schooling – I finally get the empathetic pause on the other end of the line when I ask: don’t you want your grandchildren to live the best lives possible?

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