Wildfires, protests

Since I wrote last, wildfires have started. Wildfire season used to be October, by the way, not August. We actually didn’t used to call it wildfire season.

The coastal mountains near Santa Cruz — where we were last time I wrote — started burning, not because the electricity-bearing PG&E utility wires blew down and sparked fires, but because of dry lightning that came from the edge a giant storm out in the Pacific. That fruit stand, Swanton’s, that I showed in my last post, gets its strawberries from fields that workers tried to save from smoke damage by covering them with tarps. There were also fires to the north, same cause. That meant that the air in the Bay Area went dark and stinky. We were all checking purpleair.com several times a day to see how bad it was.

We spent two days in the mountains south of Tahoe. This is what the Central Valley looked like coming down out of the mountains: Pink with smoke.

There are also the battles in Portland, Oregon between protestors and federal police. This has been going on for weeks now. Then a Black man named Jacob Blake was shot in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, leaving him paralyzed and prompting mass demonstrations. In the midst of one of these, a white 17-year old name Kyle Rittenhouse, carrying a long gun, ran through the crowd shooting and killed two people and wounded others.


My original question was, would we be able to deal with the climate crisis without shifting to an authoritarian regime? Could we get there and still be a democracy? The answer so far appears to be no, but what we’re seeing may just be what the path ahead looks like, with the outcome still undecided. Bernie didn’t get the nomination, which would have given us a legitimate way to make the necessary changes. Instead, Biden did, and he won’t do what’s necessary unless he’s pushed, so the pressure to change the way this country works has moved, as they say, “down-ballot,” meaning to local races, or within the Biden campaign to fighting for issues on the Party platform, appointments, etc.

Many people, myself included, believe it goes without saying that Trump if he is defeated will not leave the Presidency voluntarily; that he will dispute the election in every way possible. Therefore, on the path from here to there, there are going to be protests, disturbances in the streets, more shootings, more gatherings of protestors on both sides and battles in key cities, as the sides gather their forces. Down-ballot in the electoral process means city councils, regional agencies, courts, etc. Down-ballot in the streets means more demonstrations and counter-demonstrations.

Published by helenaworthen

Labor educator, retired from University of Illinois, taught at TDT University in Ho Chi Minh City in the Faculty of Trade Unions and Labor Relations. Co-author with Joe Berry of Power Despite Precarity: Strategies for the contingent faculty movement in higher education, forthcoming (August 2021) from Pluto Press.

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