From Good to Bad: Air Quality Impacts of Wildfires Made Visible

“Some call me nature, others call me Mother Nature. (…) How you choose to live each day, whether you regard or disregard me, doesn’t really matter to me. One way or the other, your actions will determine your fate, not mine. I am Nature. I will go on. I am prepared to evolve. Are you?”
Julia Roberts, Nature is Speaking: Mother Nature, Conservation International

The above short clip shows wildfire smoke obscuring the sky and making nearby hills disappear. While this year’s wildfire season in the western US is not over yet, a lot of people have already had to breathe very bad air. Itching eyes, difficulty breathing, a sore throat, or coughing were some of the short-term effects many usually healthy people felt. It was harder on children, the elderly, or on people who already suffered from other diseases like asthma or heart disease. And what will be the long-term effects?

And there are more questions. What will be next year? Will there be another bad wildfire season? Should we just move away? Where to? Tornado alley? The flooded South? And maybe most importantly: Now that more and more people experience the effects of climate change and global warming first hand, will we be willing to change some of our habits and also push for a change in policies?

Unfortunately, whatever we do will not immediately change the situation. We will probably have to suffer from our past and present sins some time into the future. But I would like to believe it is not too late yet to change for the better. Not too late for us as a species I mean, not for Nature.