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Climate Change Brings Cataclysmic Consequences

Marion Charatan

Posted on July 16, 2021 12:26

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Multiple raging wildfires in the Pacific Northwest and extensive floods in Germany show that we must address climate change for our very survival.

The naysayers who deny that climate change poses a consistent threat to our survival should take a good hard look at the world news this week. From every corner of the globe, natural disasters are bringing catastrophic consequences when they rear their ugly heads--humans, animals, homes, buildings, the infrastructure and land are under attack. 

Right here in Washington, wildfires rage and pose a particular danger to the state's eastern population. A fire in Wenatchee, in Chelan Country, across from the Cascade mountains, is burning 14 square miles and is only 10 percent contained (as of yesterday). 1500 homes are at risk of being completely destroyed, not to mention apple orchards and an electrical substation. With the intervention of 200 brave firefighters, so far no homes have been lost, according to the Washington State Department of Resources. But the evacuation and potential for loss is very real and frightening in the Red Apple Fire, 147 miles east of Seattle. 

Similarly, Oregon, to the south, is experiencing a megafire the likes of which have never been seen. The Bootleg Fire is raging across over 241,000 acres of pristine land and is just 7 percent controlled. This blaze was first reported on July 6--28 miles northeast of Klamath Falls in the southern part of the state, 250 miles south of Portland. According to Rob Allen, Incident Commander for the Pacific Northwest Area Incident Management Team 2, the perimeter covers an area over 200 miles--or 5 times the size of Washington, D.C. Twenty-one homes have perished but thankfully, no lives have been lost due to the quick evacuation of residents.

Fire clouds created by the wildfires are full of smoke containing toxic particulates, that waft into the air for miles, making air quality in surrounding regions hazardous. On one of my regular walks with a friend this week, we talked about the Seattle preliminary warnings about the risk of increasingly unhealthy air as fires rage on this summer. Depending on the wind direction, it could potentially become extremely challenging to breathe here fairly soon.

Two years ago during wildfire season, I kept my windows closed and wore a mask (pre-pandemic) because the air quality was just horrible. Even though I have no respiratory issues, I came out of my car without a mask for a couple of minutes--and felt my throat tightening up. It was tough to get a breathe--and the fires were miles away. It's much worse for those whose health is compromised. 

I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the life-threatening floods that ravaged large parts of Germany last week. At least 157 people died there in the past few days. Chancellor Merkel correctly termed the floods 'terrorizing.'

It is encouraging that President Biden recognizes the importance of climate change mitigation. On his first day in office, the President signed an order to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. Life as we know it depends on addressing worldwide extreme climate change.

Marion Charatan

Posted on July 16, 2021 12:26

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