The beginning of a new normal

I am originally from Louisiana and joined Genentech in 2011 after receiving an MBA in sustainable business. One of the reasons I moved to the Bay Area was for the abundant nature at easy distances. The ocean and bay, so many parks and reserves, snow skiing, mountain climbing, redwood forests and sandy beaches are all within reach.

Since I moved to the area in 1999, the impact of climate change is very evident. This fall, in an effort to prevent fires, electricity to houses in the area was switched off for five days in all. This was because of high winds and the risk of downed wires causing sparks. The first time, we had two nights of game playing by candlelight and enjoyed screen-free time together. A week later, we lost power for three days and were unable to save a freezer full of meat and king salmon that my husband had caught. At one point, we had three wildfires burning within unsafe distance around our home. The novelty was gone. The knowledge that this is the beginning of a new normal of high wildfire and heatwave risk, on top of the earthquakes, sank in.

That was not all. Five large, beautiful, established trees in our yard have died. Because of the drought, we were not able to water our garden. There are estimates of more than 149 million dead trees all over California because of drought and beetle infestation, and these trees are now kindling for wildfires.

In 2018, because of the wildfires, my son’s school shut for three days due to dangerous air quality. We could see the smoky haze over San Francisco. My good friend moved her family away from the Bay Area, as her son developed lung issues. We cannot turn these problems over to the next generation to solve.

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