Wildfires, Smoke, Feelings, and Action

Copyright © 2023 by Bonita Eloise Ford

I'm not trying to scare or depress you. We can still take action to help the climate and the Earth—and I would strongly urge all of us to do so.

smoky skies from wildfires and quoteI wrote this last week when the smoke was strongest here. I want to remember the smell and the feelings, because it helps make this more real and urgent. If you smelled the smoke or saw the haze, I hope you will remember the sense of realness and urgency too.


Standing outside and smelling the smoke today is scary. I have friends in what we call California, British Columbia, Australia, Greece, and more places who have suffered from wildfires and know what this is like.

I realise that I write and speak a lot about climate and ecological breakdown. Yet I've been mostly privileged enough not to have experienced these disasters firsthand (and subconsciously I could still imagine them happening in a far-off future in a faraway place).

But now, there is a wildfire burning about an hour from here and the sky has a slightly orange-brown tinge to it. This comes less than two months after the ice storm, power outage, and flooding that put 19 inches of water in our basement.

Today the air smells just like in Haiti, where diesel engines and wood or charcoal cooking fires are quite common. This smell reminds me yet again that, although the climate is unravelling for everyone, some people have had it much harder in various ways for a long time already.

I feel the anxiety in my body. But some people live with that feeling all the time.

I went outside for a short walk. I breathed and smelled and felt sad and did my best to accept this situation.

And now I'm writing this because I find myself safe at home with a bit of energy, and it's important that we talk about these things with others.

If you're someone like me who is experiencing climate chaos creeping ever closer in your life, please pause and breathe. Move and feel your body. Drink some water. Talk with a friend. Go outside. Focus on something wholesome and beautiful. (You could also try this 10 minute guided meditation.)

water droplets on lupine leaf and quoteAnd WHEN YOU ARE ABLE, PLEASE DO SOMETHING TO HELP. Find others who want to help too. It's time for us to come together and scale up our actions.

Indeed, climate and many of Mother Earth's ecosystems are destabilising. Although you specifically are not the problem, we are all necessarily a part of this unfolding: we can strive for collective change or we can let things continue on their current trajectory.


Now, it is a week later. It rained hard last night and I hope that this helped slow and even extinguish some of the fires still burning up North. 

The plants here sparkled with huge raindrops this morning. Our garden is lush with green and the sky is blue today. I breathe deeply. I give thanks again.

I am reminded to be grateful today and to do what I can to take care of the precious life around me.


I'm not going to give a list of actions to help the climate and the Earth. Lots of resources exist already (www.drawdown.org and https://www.overshootday.org/solutions/ are two excellent ones).

However, if you want some suggestions on how to approach this (rather than what to do), check out my recent piece "6 Tips to Help You Take Action for the Climate". If you want a deeper dive on confronting our mortality and ecological crises and considering how we want to live differently, I invite you to check out my book "Embers of Hope: Embracing Life in an Age of Ecological Destruction and Climate Chaos".




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