Other Voices: Adaptation and déjà vu
Moving here almost 50 years ago, my life was simpler in many ways, some of which I was happy to leave, such as living with an outhouse for two years as I built our home and raised an infant with little power to wash diapers. I built our home with power outages in mind because we had them back then, sometimes for three or four days. The hardships of those days are past and I have moved on, teaching in our local schools for 30 years before retirement.
Being drawn here was no mistake. The beauty of the area and the sense of community are lasting. These qualities continue to draw folks here. What has changed since then is our weather or more accurately, our climate.
Our old way of life is changing, reminding me of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s “Stages of Dying.” We are certainly going through the stages she outlined; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, reluctantly, acceptance. This explains much of the behavior and words we have witnessed both here and in government. Change, dramatic change, is difficult to accept. Examples of denial abound here as well as in industry and government. We recently experienced anger at gas stations, intersections, and at home and business with the power shutoffs. We try to find ways to argue out of the change as diminishing fossil fuel consumption is challenging and we are depressed at the thought of a less cushy lifestyle. But, finally, there is no other alternative but to look at the facts science has provided — and accept them.
PG&E power outages are the canary in the mine. These outages and the catastrophic fires we hope to avoid are the early warning signals that our environment is changing dramatically and it is time to accept them, adapt and do what we can to avoid further mishap.
I never thought that my lifestyle of old would return. Thank goodness no outhouse, but I still dry fruits and veggies. I have five recently used kerosene lamps and fortunately have city water. So, what does adapting look like?
Adapting is changing our buying patterns so that we are not so dependent on PG&E electricity. Stocking up on longer-lasting food. Of course, we can buy generators, move to battery storage when possible or do without electricity as so many living on the ridge, off the grid, continue to do. We are fortunate to live in a world of privilege so we can afford to scale down on what we consume, creating a simpler life.
We can pressure our governments to move more quickly. We can take personal and community responsibility by being more resourceful at the local level, something that we are good at and what brought many of us here, a sense of community — helping out one another, as we did with the 49er fire. We can work together. It is an opportunity for us to unite beyond politics and support common sense measures to meet these times.
Lew Sitzer lives in Nevada City.
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