I’ve had a few occasions to drive a fair distance during this fall season of ours. Certain parts of my travel have caught my breath as I drove through areas dressed on each side with beautiful rich colored cascades of leaves mixed with different hues of evergreen. I felt like I was driving through the palaces of nature.
We’ve been lucky this season to have beautiful weather; some storms yes but rewarded with clear clean skies. We escaped smoky air that turns the sun a fire red-orange and changes mountains into shadows.
Our own good fortune this year is humbling given the images of terrible fires burning through forests and homes in California. Homes, trees, plants and animals are being burned alive. Alas, I am reminded that our planet Earth will follow its own survival path, especially when we don’t.
I don’t think Earth is going wait patiently while we debate climate change science; debate whether we are experiencing droughts in some areas and floods in others, whether it can snow if the Earth is warming and pole ice is melting. Or, debate whether coastlines are eroding as we stand knee deep in water.
The Earth will do its thing and land will shift and bridges sag. Power lines will spark fires and embers will travel miles in fierce winds.
Surprisingly, power lines are still hung on poles, a technology as old as telegraphs and switch boards. Instead of going underground, the problem is solved by turning off the power. Say what?!
Is the next step to move back into caves?
Have we retreated from any attempt to prevent overwhelming damage from disasters?
Are we turning away from any effort to understand the cause and course of violent weather so we can change human behavior that may contribute to the ravages of pollution, droughts, storms, winds and fires?
Hoax or hex
The answer to all of the above seems to be yes, at least for those in power in the White House and its administrative departments. The New York Times published a list of 85 environmental rules (Sept. 12, 2019) that have either been rolled back or are in progress of being rolled back under the Trump administration. The motivation seems two-fold: destroy anything that President Obama accomplished, and deregulate rules “seen as burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other big businesses.”
The tactics seem to be to reduce reporting requirements; reduce, in some cases eliminate, rule enforcement; weaken regulations intended to reduce environmental extremes; and eliminate some regulations all together.
The granddaddy strategy is to claim any science related to climate change, human causes and catastrophic events is a “hoax.” Such reasoning lends itself perfectly to withdrawing from the international Paris Climate Accord and shunning any participation in climate change talks or action.
Such reasoning moves America a few more notches down the scale of ignorant and corrupt countries. Zero being corrupt Neanderthal.
Parasites or stewards
We do seem to be turning over our infrastructure to nature to fulfill its natural drive to erode and decay or in the case of violent weather, destroy. Not sure why interstate highways and international airports aren’t important to businesses.
Concurrent to deregulation, there is yet to be a workable plan with funding to support rebuilding failing infrastructures, let alone create and sustain new ones. We’ve gone through several infrastructure weeks of which each lasted about one and a half days.
The president had a great opportunity when his party controlled both the House and Senate to pass significant legislation that would begin the rebuild. Alas, it was not to be. Seems a tax cut for large corporations and building a wall on our southern border were more important.
Now the president blames Democrats despite House passage of bills to support rebuilding infrastructure. The most recent bipartisan bill (H.R. 2440) cleared the House Oct. 28 this year and promises it “will improve our ports and harbors, strengthen aviation safety, help communities recover from disasters more effectively … ”
Sounds like a plan; we will have wait to see if the Senate, self-identified by the leader as the graveyard of bills, will even consider it.
I cannot comprehend our failure to be good stewards of our planet. Thoughtful stewardship is in our best interests. We can do it. We have the will and the mind and money to be something other than parasites that destroy themselves by destroying their environment.
Any other interpretation of the outcome of our neglect is magical thinking.
I doubt there is a person, parent or child watching their home burn that is not horrified by the treachery of the fires consuming their properties and sense of security. We see the shock on their faces and the grim realization of what they have lost and what they may never see again in the same way.
For them, the beauty and inspiration of fall and spring, our palaces of nature, has burned to the ground. We must remember taking care of humans is not the role of planet Earth or Mother Nature; neither cares what flood or fire zones hold our homes and children. We’re not that special.
Bertha Cooper spent her career years as a health care organization and program administrator and consultant and is a featured columnist in Sequim Gazette. Cooper has lived in Sequim with her husband for nearly 20 years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.