Carolina Raciti

Carolina Raciti, San Francisco

Quilt Square #19

   Most weeks now I see headlines in the news about this hot topic (pun intended). This year has been extremely hot in Europe, and even though it may be cooling down a bit, in the US and in California, there will be more heat waves coming up. After all, we are only midway through August 2022. 

My family in Sacramento mentioned they are expecting temperatures around 106° Fahrenheit next week. These temperatures are a risk for elderly people, and there is the impact on bodies of water that also affect fauna and flora.  For example, Lake Shasta and Lake Siskiyou near Mount Shasta had very low water levels, and this has a direct impact on the fauna and flora in these ecosystems. 

The US has experienced floods and electrical storms that fry home electronics in Florida, and locally we already have fires raging in some California areas. It’s worrisome that fires happen every year.  They can hit anywhere, and I have actually met people that have lost their homes and had to relocate due to a fire. If you want to track fires in California, there is a site from the government that gives you updates.

In the Bay Area, I see a surge in electric cars, mostly Teslas, but there are quite a few other options. This is a good thing and at least is a step to help reduce the impact from gas emissions. Inflation and gas prices this year reached record highs, which may also be a factor that is pushing people to switch to more fuel efficient alternatives. 

In my local neighborhood, I can see lots of people on bikes, walking, or taking public transportation, but if you live outside of the city, it’s likely you will need a car in the Bay Area. I also see quite a bit of effort to get solar panels for homes, which I think is very smart. I feel people here care quite a bit about their impact. We can do more as a community than as individuals, but of course, it starts with each of us. 

I grew up in Colombia, and back home my family reports that this year it has been incredibly wet. They are getting lots of rain, and it has caused floods and landslides in some areas. This atmospheric phenomenon is called La Niña. El Niño and La Niña are climate patterns in the Pacific Ocean that can affect weather worldwide.

Most of the time the people affected by the floods are the ones that live in very poor areas, causing lots of pain and suffering. They are left with nothing but the help they can get from the government or from the community, which usually rallies to gather items and food for the people affected. Climate change accelerates natural phenomenons as we have seen.  Hurricanes are more forceful, powerful and intense, and so is the case for dry seasons, for example Europe in the summer with record high temperatures.  I think climate change also impacts el Niño and la Niña patterns and we may be facing a new dynamic where weather is just more extreme in the years ahead.  

In addition, some species will start disappearing, but sometimes I read about species that were thought to be gone, and suddenly there is a sighting and are rediscovered. I read an article in the Guardian about a hummingbird from the north coast of Colombia that was thought to be extinct, as there were no more sightings since 2010, but it was recently captured on camera by an expert bird watcher and this gives us hope.  The species is still out there and this could be the case with some other animals. 

Personally, I am trying to reduce my consumption. I think twice or more about a purchase, to see if it’s something I really need. I often skip the purchase. I also try to repair my stuff. If something can be mended or fixed I will try to re-use it. I find the Buy Nothing groups quite useful, not only for the free stuff you can score, but because sometimes you need tools or equipment for what is most likely a one time use, and you can borrow them from the community. Most people want to help! 

Locally, I know parks and trees are crucial! Nature is what keeps cities like Sacramento alive. If we take out natural elements we are in trouble. I think architects and planning departments are aware of this and are trying their best to improve design and planning for new construction. 

Any effort to add more plants and trees to spaces will pay off in the long run, as it benefits everyone. I know it can be a local action, but the whole planet is truly connected and the butterfly effect is real, so any effort to recover natural spaces will help the environment. Also, when we think of ourselves as part of nature and not as a separate entity, it helps people visualize how we can work together as community, instead of isolating ourselves in an egocentric way of conceiving humans. After all, if we disappear, the planet will be fine without us. But a lot of us would love to enjoy this beautiful place we get to call home and hope our kids, grandkids and their kids get to experience it as well. If that is your wish, some people know they don’t want kids and that is ok too!