Back in the fray

Posted July 27th, 2008 in Blog 2 Comments »

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

Okay, back from a two-week stint in California, and I have a lot on my mind. A blog is a short opinionated series of posts, and everything I want to talk about is, well, not short. One day soon, there will be the website and then we can wax eloquent, right?

What’s on my mind? Some of it is in my lungs. While in California, I was breathing some of the worst, most toxic air in my life. 1,700 wildfires left the state’s air in an unbreathable state, which is difficult because one has to breathe. Flying into San Francisco on July 10, the smoke over northern California was so thick that one could not see the ground. In Los Gatos for the weekend gathering of Sisters of Earth, many of us struggled as the smoke hung in the valley.

After that, I drove down to the L.A. area to visit relatives. I took the slow magnificent route down the Pacific Coast Highway, which reopened the day before my drive. basin-complex-fire-from-pfeiffer-ridge-by-alana-cain.pngThe fire near Big Sur was still raging, though firefighters had directed it away from the town. Just south of the village I stopped at the point where they did a backburn from the highway. From that spot right up over the mountains, all was burned out.

Going farther south on 101, I drove through Goleta and Santa Barbara. The Goleta fire had made the air all along there so bad that very soon my eyes were bloodshot and I could feel the smoke in my throat and lungs.

Folks had been breathing that air for three weeks by then.

The fires were set by lightning, something nature does to replenish the forests. But just like Hurricane Katrina, the disaster is more than natural. It is exacerbated by persistent drought that some scientists believe is permanent climate change. It is exacerbated by the presence of a mountain pine beetle that is killing trees, leaving forests with plenty of tinder should a fire break out. It is worsened by people insisting that they have a right to live in these forests, whether or not they are prone to fire, and that firefighters should risk their lives to save their expensive homes.

But it is a moment when a reality begins to set in — that we will not save ourselves from the impacts of climate change and the human abuse of the planet, but that we must begin to adapt to the changes.

And this will require a new moral framework, a spirituality, that will help us learn how to do this in a way that restores our place in the fabric of life and with an overabundance of compassion and a commitment to justice within the human, and within the earth, communties.

This is my “Hi, I’m back” post. I will have more to write through the week as I get back in gear here. We are reflecting on this site about spirituality and ecological hope. We are reflecting here on a new way of life. This has been an extraordinary couple of weeks for that reflection.

[tags] california wildfires, basin complex fire, gap fire, goleta fire, air pollution, mountain pine beetle[/tags]

Photo credit:

Basin Complex fire, Alana Cain
Canadian forest damaged by bark beetle, Washington Post

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2 Responses

  1. D.Bheemeswar

    Nice to here from you again. It is shear madness of the human kind towards the nature that has caused these all environmental and ecological imbalances.

  2. Spirituality and Ecological Hope » Ecological Grief Will Sear the Sensitive Soul

    […] in February 2007 citing this article from The Vail Daily on Jan. 22, 2007.  I mentioned it again in July after returning form California, speaking of the fire threat these dead forests […]