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Ruminations of a Feisty Old Quaker

I want my summers back

I want my summers back. Green summers, summers when creeks ran fresh and full, summers when the snow stayed on Mt Ashland into August (and sometimes into September). Summers when I could water the garden and wash the car without fear that we might be forced into water rationing before September. Summers when the air wasn't filled with smoke for half the season: summers when we could send the kids out to play without worrying about heat stroke or particulate counts, summers when we wouldn't wake up regularly to the news that yet another beautiful, loved place in the forest was smoldering into ruin. Back-yard barbecue summers, swimming-pool summers, summers ripe with the promise of autumn harvest, not heavy with the dread of heat and fire.

We knew this was coming. We were warned. As early as the late 1980s, climate scientists were telling us about the greenhouse effect and what it was doing to the planet. The trends were obvious, even then. But we were blindly in love with fossil fuels, and we refused to listen. Too many of us still do. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence, in the face of firestorms in the west and floods in the southeast, in the face of winds that grow in intensity over a season of hurricanes that lengthens ominously each year - even with all that happening, we still cling to the idea that this is somehow temporary, that next summer will be better. And it may be. But those better summers, which used to be the rule, are now rare and getting rarer, while fossil fuel reservoirs continue to be depleted and global temperatures continue to climb. We are draining the planet in order that we may more quickly burn it to death.

Surely, an animal that calls itself Homo sapiens can do better than this. Surely a culture whose holy scripture gives it the task of caring for Creation can find ways to keep that Creation from dying by its caretakers' own hands.

It is barely June, and already the lawn is crisp. Already Oregon is burning: there are three active wildfires in the Rogue Valley alone, and the Oregon Department of Forestry reports that they have responded to a total of 267 fires so far this season - more than twice the ten-year average. Already the North Entrance to Crater Lake National Park is open, something that usually doesn't happen until much later in the month, and sometimes not until July. Already, night-time temperatures are making it difficult to sleep, even with the windows wide open; already by 8:00 this morning we have had to close those windows, against the rising heat of a day that promises to reach triple-digit temperatures. A whiff of smoke drifts in on the hot morning breeze. This is the world our dependence on fossil fuels has made. Is there a twelve-step program for this addiction? It is time to put ourselves on the wagon.

I want my summers back.

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