Back in 2007, the Danish indie rock band The Figurines had this to say:

Do you feel the air we breathe?
And do you feel the air we breathe?
Do you feel the things I see?
And do you feel you’re close to me?

I don’t recall the song, but lately I’ve been understanding the sediment, uh, sentiment.  Side note: This verse is repeated twice at the start, twice and the end, with two other short verses between.  I’m just going to say that The Figurines don’t appear to have spent a ton of time on developing their theme…

In any case, that’s neither here nor there.

This is what I want to talk about.  This is the view out my window this (and last) morning:

The Northwest of the US is on fire.  Literally.  California, Oregon and Washington are all fighting massive fires and the result of that is that we’re living in the smoke cloud of that.

This isn’t about climate change, if you’re not on board with the notion that the climate is changing and that human beings bear the brunt of that responsibility, I’m certainly not going to change your mind, but I will say you need to change your mind.  The lives of your children and their children depend on it.  

As a measure of concern, we’re all used to a system that uses green/yellow/red as an indicator of risk.  Let’s toss in an orange between red and yellow to give us a bit more granularity.  For our current conditions, they’ve had to invent two additional levels above red, a purple and an ochre because things have gotten that bad.  Let me show you what our local area looks like in terms of air quality:

This morning we woke up to the above view and the app telling us that the air quality was at a 425.  This after approaching a 500 last night.

The app uses these nice little icons to help evaluate risk.  At red, they show the little person wearing a mask.  At our current levels they show this:

That’s right, we should be wearing a gas mask if we go outside.  Our air is Hazardous.  Go us!

Beijing, China is at a 102.  New York is at a 9.  Los Angeles is orange at 133.

We’ve made some changes here as we hunker down to get through this.  We don’t use the front or back doors.  We exit in to the laundry room, close the door, go in to the garage, close the door and exit out the man door on the garage.  Basically we’ve created an airlock system to try and preserve the quality of our air. 

And it’s not working.  I’ve had sinuses that are making my head feel like it’s in a vice for four days.  My eyes are perpetually irritated, even when I’m inside.  I wear a mask outside not only because of the pandemic, but because I literally can’t breathe comfortably.  You know that feeling when you’re camping and you’re near the campfire and the smoke just chases you wherever you stand?  This is like that, but you can’t get away from it if you’re outside.

The weather has shifted a bit in the last few days and the firefighters are beginning to get some of the bigger blazes under control.  The forecasts seem to indicate that conditions will improve in the next few days.  But, my fear is that we’ll forget, again, that this was like, once it’s behind us by a few weeks.  This isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened here.  Much of the gorge was on fire a few years ago and inundated our area with smoke.  A few years before that, we were rafting on the Rogue River and there were fires nearby that made the drive back very, very orange.

This isn’t the first time, it certainly won’t be the last time.

I’ll just leave this here as a parting thought.  This is going to keep happening until we make changes and those changes will not be easy and they will impact us and they will be expensive.  My fear is this trifecta means it’s very likely we’ll keep avoiding this problem until it’s too late.

Categories: Personal


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