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…

Reading Notes, News, Politics…

Heather Cox Richardson, December 16, 2021… a mixed bag today… Build Back Better Act has been shelved for the moment, due to the intransigence of Senator Manchin… voting rights has moved to the forefront and here again, Senator Manchin is a stumbling block… i believe Democracy is at stake and voting rights legislation is essential… there is no way to do it without amending the filibuster rule… Manchin is steadfastly against that so far… at the end, a bit about the Urghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which passed the Senate unanimously… the US pushing back on China for human rights violoations… polysilicon, used to make solar panels, will become scarcer as half the wolrd’s supply comes from Zinjiang from which the Biden administration is preventing all imports unless there is clear proof that slave labor wasn’t part of its production…

What’s Polluting the Air? Not Even the EPA Can Say… how the EPA fails to act even when receiving reports that indicate a huge toxic release problem… i wish i was not surprised…

The Most Detailed Map of Cancer-Causing Industrial Air Pollution in the US

The FDA Just Made Medication Abortions a Whole Lot Easier to Get… a step in the right direction, but, easily reversable by a future administration and:

Yet the change won’t mean a whole lot in much of the country. Nineteen states(https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/medication-abortion), including Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama (which recently introduced a “heartbeat bill” similar to Texas’) restrict the use of telemedicine for abortion. People across the South and the Midwest will have to travel to sanctuary states like California or New York for telemedicine appointments and to receive the medication. #abortion

Biden Administration Permanently Lifts Restrictions on Abortion Pills… an alternative take on the abortion pill story…

Manchin and Sinema Are Blocking Everything… it is so depressing… i am hoping that MJ is being overly dramatic, but the available evidence supports the doom and gloom scenario… Manchin and Sinema are currently blocking everything that would help most Democrats in the midterm, and, ultimately, 2024, since a disaster at midterm will prevent them from doing anything to make a case for their continuation in power in 2024…

Congressional Republicans Provide a Way Forward on Supply Chains… it takes pot shots at Democratic efforts but does offer what seem to be reasonable solutions… one thing that puzzles me is why the water transportation industry would favor regulation that makes it harder to expand port facilities and process larger ships?… this seems counterintuitive…

If We Don’t Get Inflation Under Control, It Could Unleash Some Dramatic Consequences