We're not quite there yet, thankfully. Oregon hasn't transitioned from a wonderful place to live into a hellscape -- "a harshly unpleasant place or environment."
But the handwriting is on the global warming wall.
Today my daughter, Celeste, her husband, Patrick, and my granddaughter, Evelyn, arrived to visit us at the Black Butte Ranch house that we have a 1/4 share in.
They're from southern California, though Celeste was born and raised in Oregon.
Chatting with them as we ate pizza and salad outside at the charming Lakeside Bistro, I pointed out how little snow there is on the Three Sisters mountains, and the smoky haze that probably is coming from a giant Klamath County wildfire in southern Oregon.
Both the missing snow and the wildfire are related to the drought conditions facing Oregon,
The snowpack is much below normal, with less precipitation overall and with what does fall in the mountains being abnormally tilted toward rain rather than snow. The Klamath region is in an exceptional drought. The Oregonian story linked to above says:
Trees, brush and other fuel in the area are so dry that embers can immediately ignite them in the full sun and even in the shade, Saalsaa said.
“It’s a very scary fire,” he said. “It’s moving so fast it’s creating its own weather climate.”
The wildfire has grown from 16,814 acres on Thursday to 47,554 acres Friday, 76,897 acres Saturday and 143,607 acres by Sunday morning.
Yesterday I drove from Salem to Black Butte Ranch in central Oregon. This was the first time since the massive Santiam Canyon wildfire in September 2020 that I'd been in that area.
It was shocking to see how little remains of Detroit. I also was surprised at how the views had changed from Highway 22. With so many roadside trees burned in the wildfire, then removed, the landscape was much more open. Detroit Lake was considerably lower than usual, given the drought.
While eating dinner, I told my daughter and her family that this has been a disastrous weather year for our part of Oregon.
First came the wildfires in the early fall of 2020. Here's how I described this photo in a blog post.
Yesterday I took this photo at 9 am while standing in our almost pitch black driveway.
Smoke from what now is called the Santiam Fire was so thick, blown by the east winds in the direction of Salem, where I live, that the sun was completely obscured. All that could be seen in the sky was an eerie red glow. Later in the day it was still strangely dark, which made me think darkness at noon.
Then came the February 2021 ice storm. We were without electricity for 12 days. Along with so many other people, our property suffered a lot of tree damage. We've still got quite a bit of debris to clean up on our ten rural acres.
Last month Oregon broke all-time high temperature records. And not by a little, by a lot. Salem hit 117 degrees, the same as the record high in Las Vegas.
It's damn clear that the climate is changing due to manmade greenhouse gas emissions.
The most disturbing thing is, the worst is yet to come. Oregon has endured gigantic wildfires, a highly destructive ice storm, and record-breaking temperatures in just the past ten months.
But by and large the world has just been giving lip service to tackling global warming.
So it looks like things are going to have to get much worse before politicians, policy-makers, and the general public wake up to the need to dramatically alter humanity's carbon footprint.