I come from the land of azaleas, live oaks, and loblolly pines; of watermelons, black-eyed peas, and cornbread baked in a cast-iron skillet; of Choctaw and Chickasaw heritage; mosquitoes and lightning bugs; magnolias; hurricanes and menacing tornadoes that lurk by day and night. I come from a place bathed in the shadow of slavery.
I’ve dipped my toes in the great Mississippi; swum in the Gulf of Mexico; studied guitar, voice, and nutrition; run a marathon; raised four children; worked as an artisan; and chopped wood to heat my rustic cabin-like home in the redwoods in coastal Northern California.
For the past 36 years, I’ve called California home, both its fertile valleys and magnificent coastal regions. Since 2017, I’ve lived on Patwin land in the Sacramento Valley, where I study and write about our warming planet and how this human-caused phenomenon is reshaping our world and the health and habitats of the organisms we share it with.
Since 1850, humans have been adding greenhouse gases to Earth’s atmosphere—the U.S. has emitted more than any other nation—resulting in warming we are already experiencing. Glaciers are melting; sea levels are rising; drought is intensifying; and because of warmer waters, hurricanes are gaining strength right before making landfall, astonishing even the meteorologists who monitor and report on them.
As I write this, the current drought in the West is so bad that scientists have deemed it the worst megadrought in 1,200 years. Fire season is now a year-round phenomenon, prompting us to keep go bags packed in case of fire, buy air purifiers, and stock up on masks to protect us from wildfire smoke.
Scientists project drought and other extreme weather patterns to continue worsening until the world lowers carbon emissions to zero, stabilizing temperatures. The faster that happens, the less suffering people will experience from crop failures, deadly floods, heatwaves, fires, and other unprecedented weather events.
Climate change is here and ever-present. Everyone will eventually experience it in ways they never imagined, and those who have burned the least amount of carbon are and will continue to bear the brunt of it. In the U.S., its presence will be palpable in every corner of the country—from the remotest rural areas to the largest cities and all the communities in between, with some places likely becoming uninhabitable from rising sea levels and other changes within this century.
How can we anticipate and prepare for present and future disruptions, and help others do the same? That’s where this website fits in. Here, I’ll collect data and tell stories about how climate change is altering familiar landscapes, bodies of water, and weather patterns in your particular U.S. locale—with in-depth posts on each region—so that we can all better adjust to a hotter climate, one that Earth has not seen in 125,000 years. In addition, look for book recommendations and posts on climate science, food security, ecology, science discoveries, and the latest—gulp—contagion, like Covid, for example. I’ll include some of these as short write-ups at the end of each newsletter.
I hope this information will better connect you to one another and help you feel more informed about the climate crisis at large. The world needs us all to do our part in securing the most livable planet possible for everyone. For some, understanding what’s happening closer to home can be a more meaningful place to start.