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Smoke, Seattle, Apocalypse
September 11, 2020
by William P. Meyers

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It is a bit smoky in my neighborhood of Seattle. I took a long walk this morning, with the dog and wife, despite that. It is not, at least yet, a pale of darkness like we have been shown in Portland, Oregon, or Northern California. Most of the fires in the state of Washington are burning east of the Cascade mountains; most of the smoke in Seattle is from Oregon and California. It reminded Jan of the pollution in San Diego when she was growing up in the sixties, and it reminded me of the days of yore, growing up in Jacksonville, when a yellow mustard-gas like atmosphere often greeted me in the morning. That was before the Environmental Protection Agency was formed.

Living a few miles from the first known multi-person coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., I have been mostly inside since March. Almost all of my outdoor activity has been dog walking. I would like to go here and there, and buy this and that, and sometimes do, but mostly I just procrastinate on any activity that would bring me into contact with the virus. I hope if I catch it I will have mild symptoms, but that cannot be counted on.

I intend to start making phone calls for the coming election, but so far have managed to procrastinate from day to day. For sure starting next Monday. I think the Democrats, the elected ones, are ready to do something serious about climate change. How serious remains to be seen, and I suspect it is too late anyway. I believe we are in a slow-moving apocalypse. One year, perhaps soon, perhaps not, there will be global crop failures. If that happens two years in a row, the human population will plummet, maybe even to a sustainable level of perhaps 1 billion people. But the earth will continue to warm for some time, because there is a lag effect. Even when CO2 levels flatten, the earth will continue to heat up.

How long will it take northern California to look like southern California used to? Soon everything south of San Jose will look like Baja used to, basically desert. Oregon is what I wonder about. Will it have a few decades of dryer, warmer forests, or will it tip quickly into desertification? Then Washington State becomes the next hot domino.

But not this year. Corn is under $4 per bushel, despite the disaster in Iowa, so no one should starve. Western Washington got good rainfall this spring, so our state fires are in the usual places, well to the east. Halloween is likely canceled, but horrors abound. Will people join their families for Christmas (or other religious or secular holidays), or will the delight at useless gifts need to be conveyed over Zoom?

Stay sane and stay safe. If you come across a Zombie not wearing a mask, don't shoot at it, it might still have just enough of a nervous system left to shoot back, and it is probably better armed than you are.

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