by Val Germann
The title above comes from a Jimi Hendrix (that’s right!) lyric of 40 years ago, about a time-traveling visitor to Earth. The lines below have stuck with me from the moment I first heard them in the mid-1960s:
“I have been here before, in the age of ice,
and of course this is why I’m so concerned.
I’ve come back to find the stars displaced
and the smell of a world that’s burned,
the smell of a world that’s been burned.”
And so it is in the process of being burned, as has been happening all over the world, and in our American West, in Mexico, and even in Canada. This writer happened to be visiting Rochester, New York, several years ago as fires burned out of control in Ontario province. The smoke and haze was very acrid in Rochester, hundreds of miles to the south, making it difficult to stay outside.
And so it will likely come as no surprise to our readers that enormous forest fires are raging once again, this time on the islands of Indonesia. Today’s TERRADAILY website features a startling article on these new fires, causing trouble thousands of miles away:
But on Thursday, the haze had spread 3,600 kilometres (2,250 miles) to smother islands in the western Pacific, authorities there said.
What is causing these fires? Is it drought? Is it lightning? Is it bad luck? Or is it something else:
The annual illegal burn-off in Indonesia, which officials have been accused of doing little to stop, sees choking smoke billow across the region, with Malaysia, Singapore and southern Thailand usually worst affected.
Yes, indeed, it’s people who are causing these fires, the hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of land for slash and burn agriculture, torching ever more tropical forest every year. There is no stopping them, apparently, and there will be no end to their burning until there’s nothing left to burn, nothing left but the smell, the smell of a whole world that’s been burned.