Thursday, August 30, 2012

No Rest for Fires and Floods

On vacation in Montana, I find that even while escaping the final dog days of NYC (which are, as it turns out, ideal, weather-wise), it's impossible to escape the fiercest that mother nature has to offer. There's a fire in nearby Pine Creek that has so far consumed 5000 acres. The clear blue endless sky has been replaced with a pewter blanket of smoke, the air slightly charred and insinuating itself into the lungs. The Livingston Fire Department has been posting updates on its Facebook page.

I just heard from a friend in New Orleans who is dealing with Hurricane Isaac, which struck—melodramatically, biblically—on the same date as Katrina. He writes for the Times Picayune, at least for a little while more, and emailed from a blacked-out office there. To top it off, he has family up here in Montana, in a nearby town, who have been evacuated from their home.

So on the one hand, up north, fast-spreading fire in a droughted area, where the brush this year is the color of Van Gogh's wheat fields, crispy as puffed rice. On the other, another scary hurricane aiming and firing at the Gulf Coast. Extreme weather conditions in our most geographically beautiful spots are, scarily, becoming common. Is it too late to reverse the cycle? And will these coincidences help refocus the national conversation on global warming during this ideologically-driven election period?

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