Where am I?

One view

Friday I needed to go in to town. By the time I got to the main road I was feeling like a cured ham due to all the smoke. In fact BC managed to grab the honours for “worst air on Earth”, with the Okanagon area coming in with an Air Quality Index of 415. That’s “extremely dangerous”; roughly the equivalent of sucking the exhaust out of a semi’s stack under full load. We’re doing much better here with about 100 points less than that which puts us in the “very unhealthy” category.

I started out with fairly clear air when I left. Sucked down fumes through my whole trip. Then came back to a lake full of precipitated particles – which have yet to go away. There’s no promise of rain in the forecast, but possibly more lightning which could start more fires. Of course it’s a holiday weekend here, and lots of morons are heading out for some fun in the sun. Despite roads being closed, trails being closed, campsites being closed, evacuation zones being closed, and of course the whole bloody area being full of damn thick smoke. They’ll go anyway and think it no end of fun as they light their illegal campfires and send more of our province up in flames.

Halfway through “fire season” and we’ve had more fires than the average for a whole one. Also set a record for “wildfires of note” (the ones that endanger people directly). I wouldn’t be surprised if this year surpasses the nightmare of 2017 in terms of total area burned and/or damage done.

What does it really look like? I set the Nikon on “daylight” and snapped a shot (no alterations, colour correct, resulting image pretty much what you’d see in person):

This isn’t the worst-afflicted area either.

I’m doing nothing. The air isn’t fit to breath. I’m too old and too broken-down to deal with this stuff. A HEPA filter and N95 masks are no match for it.

Is my sight getting any better? I can’t tell because the world around me has gone into “soft focus” with lots of real “floaters” obstructing the view.

Side note: for some reason I grabbed the Olympus E-410 when I was home. The first picture is taken with that. I don’t think I’ll be doing any photography any time soon, but I have some prepared from this past week before things really went wahoonie-shaped. I’ve been thinking a lot about what equipment I have (four DSLRs with five different lens systems between them?) and will remark on that at a later date.

The Last Continent

(No, this is not about Terry Pratchett’s wonderfully humorous book.)

I saw a meme at the beginning of the year which went something like this:

January 1, 2020; first day of New Year, so far so good.
January 2, 2020; Australia seems to be on fire.
January 3, 2020; World War Three announced.

It was meant to be funny, but its humour is dark because it’s true.

I don’t actually know anyone in Australia, but I have a lot of friends there. This seeming paradox can be explained by the fact that when British Columbia was burning in 2017 and 2018 dozens of Aussies came to our aid. Right now firefighters from BC & Alberta are down under trying to return the favour.

Their fires are worse than ours. We burned out 2 million acres each year. They have lost 3 times that total so far. The topography is different between our two lands; they don’t have our great mountains which act as both a fire break and a royal pain for fighting the flames. I fear Australia will be devastated irrevocably from this disaster. Whole species unique to the continent may go extinct. Areas of it may become uninhabitable; that’s how bad it is.

We were warned to expect 3-5 years of such fire activity here, and it seems to have declined already as last year was ‘nothing’ compared to the years prior. But the cycle will return and it will lengthen and worsen. The main thing people do not understand about climate change is that the initial effect is greater swings of ever-more extreme weather, such as droughts or hurricanes. I did a brief and overly simplified explanation of how it works here.

Anyway the point is I know about wildfires close up and personal. I’m too old and decrepit to fight them myself now (I got admonished by a doctor for even breathing the air during the fires; I guess I was supposed to go to another country or hold my breath), but I know what they look like up close and personal:

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And I know what it looked like while we were trapped at the cabin in 2017:

While the ash rained down and burned through leaves and I made repeated mad trips to the house in town to try to save whatever I could because the fire was on the hill 3 miles behind it. That’s when the 4Runner broke:

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Oh well at least I’m not having to explain how wildfires are fought and the why of the methods used. I wasted a lot of time trying to enlighten morons about that back when we were burning. People who have never dealt with a problem invariably have an overly simplistic understanding of it. “Just fly the Martin Mars!” was their usual “solution”. Good thing those people weren’t in charge of the actual firefighting efforts!

By the way, there are certain similarities between Mr. Pratchett’s book and the situation in the real Australia now. Although I doubt Rincewind would be of any help to them. He’d doubt it too.

Now, I do have a friend who lives in Puerto Rico. He’s been hammered by hurricanes every year, and this year Earthquakes have hit and once again the island is without power. We have quakes here too; a week or so ago we got nine of them measuring up to 6.3. If they hadn’t told us, we’d not have known. Meanwhile the same size disturbance has turned his island into a disaster area. Again.

Next week our forecast calls for temperatures of -24°C for a high on Tuesday, and similar cold the rest of the week. My wife leaves for England on Monday to deal with her demented sister again. I will be spending the week inside watching movies I guess (certainly not going out to do any photography), but at least I won’t be watching fires or earthquakes bringing my world down around my ears.

And let us not forget it’s the little critters who suffer the most from these disasters. We humans are fairly resilient; wildlife not so much so. Our huge brains give us this advantage. It’s a pity we don’t use them beforehand so that the disasters aren’t so bad. But alas we insist on creating artificial problems of religion and politics and borders because we, for all our immense brain power, can not see the real troubles all around us.

Until it’s too late.

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Flycatcher