“Your eyes had a mist from the smoke of a distant fire” – Sanford-Townsend Band
This 70’s lyric was in my head when I woke up this morning. It’s a song I rarely think of, shoved to the back corner of my brain with Disco Duck and some other pop music that is best left in the decade it was found in. And of course the smoke of a distant fire is to blame.
We may think we live on a limitless, massive and resilient planet, but any illusions disappear when you smell the smoke in New Hampshire from fires in Washington and Oregon. When you have days of burnt orange sunlight turning the days into some science fiction movie. And it repeats itself day-after-day and year-to-year.
And of course, while they’re burning out west the northeast and Germany are soaked through in rainwater. Our feet are wet while our lungs are filled with smoke from the other side of the country. Earth is off-kilter. And maybe there’s time to fix it, maybe there isn’t. But most people are so indifferent that it seems inevitable that we’ll slide into a crisis of our own making.
If I’ve learned anything from trying to kick bad habits, it’s that changing your routine and worldview is difficult. We all know people who still smoke while being treated for cancer, or still eat poorly while managing Type 2 Diabetes. Getting people to wear a mask or get a vaccine during a pandemic became a political statement. So what are the odds that people will change as the climate changes?
My optimism is currently tinted in smoky orange.