What I Read Today: California’s Forever Fire

Elisabeth Weil, ProPublica, January 03, 2022

An article in ProPublica on California’s wildfire situation… the world is burning down around us, and it’s not just California going up in smoke… the wildfires in California are among the too-obvious-symptoms of the apocalypse we are transitioning into… and yet… we haven’t woken up… we haven’t embraced the fact that life as we know it is already gone and a new reality is setting in…

… this:

That night, in Tahoe, it rained. The next morning the sky opened up again as I crossed Donner Pass. At a gas station I read a Twitter thread by the novelist Michael Chabon, a Californian, about nihilism versus existentialism. He’d read a draft of his son’s college essay in which that son tried to imagine his own future. Chabon saw his child fighting “to swim against the rising floodwaters of nihilism all around.”

Chabon understood why a person would feel that way about the world, and, in particular, about the world right now. Chabon had felt that way himself once, too. But he also knew, having lived here on Earth for a while, that nihilism is a dead end — no path out. The alternative need not be false hope, or even the belief that the world is not essentially broken and absurd. The alternative is to make your own purpose and meaning, whatever the situation.

… and this:

We can’t fix California’s wildfire problem with a big idea. We can only settle into the trans-apocalypse and work for the best future, the best present. That starts with acknowledging that our political structures have failed us and keep failing us every day. The powerful have failed the vulnerable. The old have failed the young. The global north has failed the global south. We have failed one another.

… and this:

This summer, in Kings Canyon, as the wildfires approached, firefighters wrapped giant sequoias in aluminum foil. This included General Sherman — 2,200 years old and the largest single tree on Earth. This act was meager, and it was devotional. It’s what we’ve got now. The good news is, some of the moves we need to make are easier, more straightforward and more under our control than we imagined, if we’d just allow ourselves to get them done. The bad news is that there is just going to be loss. We’re not used to thinking about the world that way. We’re not used to paying for our mistakes.

… this article mentions the fire management Native Americans practiced before western civilization arrived and began to extract, exploit, destroy… it made me want to read Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer again…