This morning my feed was filled with Aussie wildfire stories, where the smoke from the ongoing bush fires is so thick that it’s very much a scene from a dystopian movie.
The Guardian describes a haze over Sydney that’s 11 times the threshold for “hazardous,” as “buildings were evacuated regularly as fire alarms were triggered at random.”
The city’s residents are choking, donning face masks and getting carted off in ambulances when they finally just can’t breath.
School children are being kept inside, with regular summer activities and events canceled, as all across the affected region there are places where life is slowly grinding to a halt
But for all the reporting on the crisis in mainstream outlets, this reddit post is perhaps the most depressing read on the topic I’ve come across in recent days:
Climate change is unimportant, is it? I live in NSW Australia. I feel every day like I’m living in an apocalypse film.
I live in NSW, Australia. We are on fire, and have been for weeks.
Today has been covered in smoke cloud. You can see it, and it wasn’t just an early morning thing. It looks like 70s celluloid film of a wartime movie: hazy burnt orange, making any green look khaki. I look out at the late afternoon sun, and it’s red. Not nice autumn orange, though we have just entered summer, it’s red in a field of haze. It has been for days. The afternoon sunshine is bright orange on those days where the smoke haze isn’t too thick for the sun to get through…
We are in drought. Again. And it looks worse this time. There are parts of NSW where the dams are empty. Truly empty. Dust fields that are massive, nothing able to grow in these conditions.
The sirens are heard from my house going by time and time again – loud and multiple as I try to get to sleep. People who have it worse than my cat and can’t breathe. I drive home and see firetrucks up by people’s houses. I pull aside for ambulances racing to help people who rely on clean air a bit more than the rest of us do.
It’s two weeks to Christmas, and we look outside to see something apocalyptic rising with the sun. Places I’ve been – places I know well – sit facing fires approaching them from all sides. “I wish you all the luck in the world” is what I can say to those I know facing it, and what I get back is “We will stand and defend our home.”
…Now I look outside and wonder how long it’s all going to last. It’s hard not to be fatalistic when you’re living in a place that’s giving you every bloody indication you, your species, and all you care for is inhospitable here. That all the fucking around we’ve been doing has just been begging for this to happen.
If you’re in an area that’s affected by the smoke, or is likely to be affected, the most important prep is probably a quality N95 (aka P2) face mask. A properly fitted N95 (or stronger, eg. P100) is the only thing that will filter out enough smoke to make a difference. Lesser face coverings, like the paper or fabric masks you might use for medical purposes, just don’t cut it.