Mosier, Oregon – September 12, 2020 at 3 pm

If not this, then what?  What will it take to wake us up to the reality of climate change?  What will it take to embrace a new way of life on Earth that will start to reverse the effects of human impact on the planet?

Today – June 28, 2023 at 2:30 pm

In September of 2020, I was visiting family in Oregon when the wildfire smoke settled in the Columbia River Valley.  The usually fresh, clear and brilliant atmosphere was polluted to “beyond hazardous” levels.  While recent smoke in the Northeast of the United States pushed the air quality index above 400, in the region of the Columbia River Valley called The Gorge – oasis for cyclists, hikers and wind sport enthusiasts – we reached an air quality index of nearly 700 and remained there for days.

I remember trying to convey to my friends back on the East Coast what it was like to live under these conditions.  Where an N95 mask was needed to go into the basement of my parents’ house.  The murky orange-gray “daylight.”  We were very lucky to be living in a new home with HVAC system and HEPA filtration.  I couldn’t help but worry for those that did not have that privilege.  After 5 days we had to venture out wearing N95 masks to get some food.  I saw local painting contractors at the general store wearing bandanas on their mouths against the insane level of pollution.  I wanted to cry out to them for their health. To cry out for the health of a planet that was literally burning.

A few weeks ago, my friends in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York lived through this same experience.  Until you experience an event like this first-hand – it is impossible to understand the impacts.  Apocalyptic.  Depressing.  Frightening.  Coughing.  Stinging.  Our bodies under threat in a way many of us have never experienced before.  We were changed.  Shaken awake – like out of a dream.  But will it be enough?