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Prompted By Fire

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People laughed at earnest Al Gore when he warned us about global warming so long ago. What if he hadn’t lost Florida in 2000? What if the hanging chads had fallen his way? He won the popular vote by 500,000 but ended up losing the Electoral College to George W. Bush 266 to 271 when the Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount.

Now wild fires are added to the list of climate change based disasters, which may have been avoidable if only Gore had become president … and if only we had listened.

What if he had won instead? Would we be facing wild fires like the recent ones in Canada and Hawaii? Would we have experienced air like this all over our country and the world?

Would we have reacted sooner to An Inconvenient Truth, a 2006 documentary film directed by Davis Guggenheim about Gore’s campaign to educate people about global warming?

FIRE is part of what climate change has wrought. Everything is hot and dry. In Canada, temperatures have been higher than normal, and drought in parts of British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, Ontario and the Prairies means we should expect more wild fires into the fall.

Hawaii’s fire is a disaster in which high winds knocking down active power lines, old infrastructure, and dry, easily flammable brush resulted in a FIRE that ultimately consumed Lahaina, a coastal town of 13,000 in western Maui. A fatal combination of high temperatures, strong winds from a Category 4 storm, and drought conditions over 100 people dead, and that number is expected to rise.

Now wild fires are added to the list of climate change based disasters, which may have been avoidable if only Gore had become president … and if only we had listened.

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: moving, right on!, well written


  1. Thanx for your important and sobering story Laurie.

    I often quote Al Gore’s title , An Inconvenient Truth. Had we but listened to him indeed – and years ago to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    If only…Laurie, your wish is that of so many of us. Your concise story speaks so many truths here. I wrote my story before the Maui wildfire, but it haunts me so – Patti and John Zussman (founders of Retrospect) have gone to Maui since the mid-80s, owned property there for years and years, moved there for a while (Kapalua). I had a long talk with Patti on Wednesday morning. She could barely hold back her tears. She has two friends who lost their homes (they were not on the island at the time). She said Front Street was where they would go to dine out, go shopping, just have fun. She couldn’t grasp that is was gone. It is 20 minutes from where their home was.

    We saw the haze of the Canadian wildfires this summer (though not like NYC or DC, when the sky turned orange). Have we reached the tipping point? This is the wettest summer on record for MA. They are predicting a big hurricane season and we watch Hilary bearing down on the west coast. Your story is timely and prescient.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      I’m so sorry for Patti’s and John’s loss. So many people lost everything and the death toll will be huge once they account for everyone who is missing. As we head into 100 degree days here, with high humidity, I fear we are pretty close to the tipping point.

  3. You are a great reminder of what could have been. Another strong advocate for climate change reform is Bill McKibben who is still an active spokesman for proposing ways to save the world.
    The two examples you cited are rigorously denied by the Heritage Foundation et. al. for being caused by climate change. We have a long hard fight ahead. But with the young generation we will overcome.

  4. pattyv says:

    Climate change is upon us and rearing its carnage all over our planet. How anyone can still deny its existence is beyond belief. As frightening as it is we must still ban together and fight back in whatever way possible. We owe it to our children, to our grandchildren. We also owe it to this wonderful home of ours, planet Earth. Al Gore was passionate in his plea to all who would listen, hopefully we still have time.

  5. Khati Hendry says:

    Amen Laurie. The truth is more inconvenient every day, and more people are taking notice perforce. And of course we are still trying to move forward while well-funded deniers hold us back. The story continues.

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