Elliot Kirschner on Lassen National Park, which he knows well from childhood summer vacations:

For those who have never been to Lassen, or maybe haven’t even heard of it, it is one of the true gems of the National Park system, although far less famous than its cousins like Yellowstone and Yosemite. It’s a place shaped by an active volcano, Lassen Peak, which last erupted a little over a century ago, and all the geothermal activity that goes with it. Its streams, lakes, meadows, and forests teem with wildlife and vistas both epic and intimate. As much as the sights, I remember the smells. Around the bubbling mud baths came the pungent odor of rotten eggs from the hydrogen sulphide rising from the bowels of the earth. But in the forests, the smell was sweet and full of life, a blend of the numerous species of trees. 

But not any more. Now it smells like smoke and destruction. Word is that more than half of it was eaten by the Dixie Fire.

Out West the climate crisis means increased droughts which turn even high-altitude forests into torch fuel. In other parts of the country, the effects are of course quite different. While we are praying for rain, swaths of the eastern half of the country are getting far too much of it. The scenes out of Louisiana, then up through the interior, and out to New Jersey and New York and the rest of the Northeast are heartbreaking. If only we could take some of that water out here. If only we could restore more of a sense of balance. If only we had done a better job of preparing. If only we were doing more now.

As I read the piece I can see a giant cruise ship heading out of Elliott Bay into Puget Sound and up to Alaska, burning through 80,000 thousand gallons of fuel a day. We could just skip that you know. I realize it’s a big industry that makes a lot of $$$ but cruises are not a necessity of life. We could make some effort to do something about the problem, but we’re not. I keep finding myself thinking about little energy-saving moves and then remembering those 80,000 gallons a day – for just one ship. We’re not even trying.

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