Kendall’s Climate Story
How are you sensing climate change?
Growing up in Oregon I would always hear people talking about how much it rains here. When talking to people from out of state they would refer to Oregon as “the rainy state” or make comments about how they couldn’t imagine living in a place that rains so much. Obviously, having grown up here, I’m pretty used to the rain and don’t really view it as excessive. But it’s funny though, in a not actually at all funny way. Because when I think about the one weather related defining trait of Oregon, it’s not the rain, at least not any more. It’s the fire.
The last few summers in Oregon have been terrifying. We call it wildfire season, but I’m not so sure that’s an appropriate name anymore considering the wildfires are starting earlier and lasting longer than ever before. Each summer we have to brace ourselves for inevitable devastation. Forests, hiking trails, beloved landmarks and countless homes and buildings are lost each year to these devastating fires. Not to mention the countless lives of humans and animals claimed each year. And it’s only getting worse. Some of those affected by the fires of last summer are still displaced or trying to build their lives back up. Meanwhile, fires are blazing across Oregon claiming more homes and ruining more lives. Currently, the largest fire in the country is blazing across Oregon.
Wildfires have always been a part of Oregon, but there’s no denying climate change is quickly exacerbating the problem. Summers are hotter and drier, we’ve experienced countless droughts, creating the perfect environment for wildfires to thrive. It seems like every week there’s a new fire or we get the news that a new place has burned down. Last summer, while camping, I had to drive through two forest fires. I had no idea that the fires were happening, and to be honest, it was one of the scariest moments of my life. I was lucky though, all I got out of it was a few days of smoke inhalation sickness, but it could have been much worse. After experiencing last summer, where the skies across Oregon turned orange, where ash collected in our houses even with the windows and doors shut, and where many of us had to be evacuated, I can’t fathom the idea of it getting worse. Even now as I write this in my living room I can feel the effects of the fires. The mountain view that I am normally greeted by in my living room windows has disappeared. Smoke and gray clouds blanket the skies, shielding anything in the distance. I haven’t seen the mountains in weeks.
Oregon is known for its nature and all of it’s outdoor wonders. It saddens me, more than I can really express, the idea that the places that I love, places where I’ve made amazing memories, may not survive in my lifetime. I love Oregon, and I love what it has to offer. And I hate the idea that climate change may take away the home that I love so much.
How do these changes make you feel?
Environmental ethics has shaped how I view climate problems. In the case of wildfires, I used to be guilty of thinking about the situation in a more anthropocentric sense. That is, I focused on the devastation to people–their homes burning down, the lives lost, the places we loved that we could no longer go to. I think I view it a bit differently now, in a more holistic/ecocentric sense. The victims of a fire are not just humans. Now when I mourn a fire, its for the people, the animals, the trees, the disrupted ecosystems, the ruined rock formations etc. These climate problems effect more than just me, and I’m getting better at truly understanding that.
Eugene, OR 97404, USA
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