By Ishi Shah
On August 19, 2020, I stepped outside expecting fresh air, but I was met with smoke. I couldn’t see anything past my neighbors’ houses and the ground was littered with ash. I could feel the smoke fill my lungs every breath I took. My friend with asthma found herself unable to breathe even in the house from the smoke that entered through the window and door cracks.
During the whole month of August, we didn’t leave our houses and the air quality was constantly “Hazardous” and the temperature was over 100 degrees. The sky was either red or grey and even the birds that used to show up on our porch were being poached in the scorching heat.
Luckily my family didn’t need to be evacuated, but it pained me to see the people who had to leave their homes during a global pandemic with no place to go.
For the first time in a month, I am able to see the blue sky but the air still has a hint of smoke. My family is doing much better, and my friends that evacuated are all back in their homes. But there is still so much that needs to be done. We can see first hand that we are in the middle of a climate crisis. Temperatures are going to continue to rise and create more fires if we continue to use fossil fuels. We need clean energy now, so I strongly encourage you to use your voice and vote!
Ishi Shah is a social justice advocate living in Northern California. Starting in reducing plastic pollution, she has worked with organizations, board members, and staff members to improve sustainability in her school and community. She is currently part of the Zero Hour Music Team and pushes for systemic change through peaceful actions.