My ride up to the Olympic Peninsula was longer than planned to skirt the huge fires and resulting smoke plumes in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Not only was staying clear of the fire danger important, but staying clear of all of the fire fighting personnel and equipment was the least I could do help those brave people do their job. At one point we were looking at riding through the smoke plume of the Carr fire near Redding to reach Klamath Falls, Oregon. I figured we could handle some smoke inhalation for an hour, but when I checked the air quality at Klamath Falls, I found that the Southern Oregon fires has so jammed up the air with particulates that they were about to decertify it as air and just call it charcoal. An hour riding through a smoke plume was one thing, but another 14 hours in heavy smoke was not what any of us needed, so we backtracked along 140 miles of Highway 36 from Red Bluff, in the interior of the CA, to Fortuna on the coast. 36 is an unbelievably cool road to ride and though we had just ridden it the day before to get to Red Bluff, you know that riding a road in the opposite direction on a motorcycle makes it an entirely different road and we enjoyed it every bit as much riding back the other direction.
The huge fires seen in the western U.S. and other parts of the world clearly relate to warmer global temperatures that are making dry parts of the world drier, wet parts wetter and not parts hotter. The two photos below show the devastation of a 5-10 year old forest fire in Oregon. With thunderheads floating over the Cascade, Mountains, the weather-bleached tree trunks look bleak, spiking up through the young new trees and you can see that the new growth probably has another decade to go before erasing the devastation.
The distant picture shows were the fire was so hot that the old tree trunks did not survive and that area may look like a moonscape for 50 years. Of course these view ignores the terror and sadness of having your home burn in front of you and the incredible cost to us all to help areas like this recover from the devastation. Consider all of that the next time you are inclined to label climate change a hoax.