As California Burns, Here's How To Make A Difference

Beyond the many moments of disbelief and anger I have felt watching essential climate protections be rolled back this year — as even more climate-fueled wildfires rage on in my homestate of California — I come back again to hope in people like you.

You, I believe, understand.

You understand that doing everything we can to protect our climate is far more important than what others are prioritizing as the business opportunity in drilling for and burning more oil. For without healthy air, increased profits are meaningless.

You know to think otherwise is simply wrong.

You also, I believe, have the good heart and wisdom to know that we are responsible for protecting the climate, like all our natural resources, for those who follow us.

This is what comes from being a mother — an informed mother — in these times.

So what do we do now as the backsliding, not only in climate protections but in climate truths, continue — while the impacts of climate change play out more dramatically than most people imagined would be possible in 2017?

To say, after all, that the six new wildfires now burning in California have scorched 200,000 acres, taken one life, destroyed 1,000 buildings, and forced more than 93,000 people to evacuate their homes hardly begins to convey what these fires are like.

In 2017, California has developed a new image and a new reality: apocalyptic.

“With climate change, some scientists are saying that Southern California is literally burning up,” Gov. Brown said this week — adding, in a phrase widely associated with climate change, that this is “the new normal.”

But if you want to stop reading there, please don’t because there is something — many things, actually — that you can do that will matter now.

First, if you live in or near California, understand what this means:

“The people of the American West are expected to endure more large, destructive wildfires in the future, the result of both climate change and more development in wild areas,” Francie Diep wrote in The Pacific Standard. “As a result,” she added, “more communities will likely have to deal with extended periods of intense wildfire smoke.

Second, learn how to protect yourself and your family from wildfire smoke.

If you live in or near an area that is prone to wildfires, buy a box of facemasks that can protect you from the smoke. Know the warning signs of smoke inhalation. Identify buildings in your area (such as schools or libraries or government centers) that have installed sophisticated air filtration systems. And pay attention to evacuation notices.

Find more detailed information in the new resource, “Take Smoke Seriously.” There is also more information about what individuals and communities can do to protect themselves in The Pacific Standard.

Third, remember you can always do something small — and something big — to protect our changing climate and the people affected by it.

Something small, for example, might be a direct contribution to the victims of the fires. Here are 11 ways to do that.

As for something big?

Big solutions to climate change require policy solutions, such as supporting America’s Clean Power Plan. And while the President has turned back the clock on both of those measures, Moms who understand know that we must do everything we can to protect our children and future generations — no matter others do.

So if you have not already joined the 1 million members of Moms Clean Air Force, sign up now to receive updates and alerts.

Consider making a gift this holiday season to support this work, or that of other organizations fighting to protect the future well-being of our children and children’s children.

Spread the word about Moms working to protect the climate for our children and our children’s children via social media — or, better yet, face-to-face.

And of course, use your vote and your wallet to support strong climate protection.

Alone, it’s easy to feel like you have no voice. Together, we are a force to be reckoned with.

(This post originally appeared on Moms Clean Air Force.)