Global suicide

Did humanity blow its chance to prevent some of the worst outcomes of climate change? Um, yeah.

“Planet Doom.” “Point of no return.” “We’re all gonna die.”

These were just some of the headline ideas we kicked around for this week’s cover story by Alastair Bland (see page 14), which opens with an evacuation scene at the Carr fire in Redding and hopscotches around the globe seeking an answer to this question: Did humanity blow its chance to prevent the worst outcomes of climate change?

You don’t need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind blows, and you don’t need me to tell you what it looks like outside your window.

As of Tuesday, 11 large wildfires were still raging across our state and some 12,500 firefighters were girding for the arrival of another unhelpful stretch of punishing heat. California’s largest wildfire in history is burning right now in Mendocino County. More than 2,000 structures have been destroyed and over 740,000 acres scalded. Many people have died. Many more will continue to do so.

This is the “new normal” that fire officials say should actually be known as just “normal.” Fire tornadoes and massive, year-long conflagrations that devour whole neighborhoods and leave the sky a permanent orange-gray are now the best case scenario going forward. In the not too distant future, we’re looking at catastrophic losses of life.

Welcome to California. Welcome to the world. We broke it. Now we own it.

We could’ve stopped this. We can’t anymore, but we can still mitigate some of the hairier effects. We won’t, of course. Because why start being sensible now?

If there’s a silver lining to all of this, it’s that history won’t remember mankind’s profoundly stupid collective suicide. There won’t be anyone left to write it down.