Opinion: Dying rivers. Seattle above 100 degrees. Readers are despairing over climate change

A firefighter cools down hot spots on June 28 near Mt. Shasta.
With 14,180-foot-high Mt. Shasta in the background, a firefighter cools down hot spots after the Lava fire burned through an area north of Weed, Calif., on June 28.
(Scott Stoddard / Associated Press)

I had planned on devoting this space to fireworks, which every year around the July 4 holiday prompt complaints from letter writers who say that these seasonal disturbances in Los Angeles have become a perennial plague, much like wildfires. But since there are actual fires burning in areas north of the 40th parallel that were scorched by a truly hell-on-Earth heat wave, it seemed more appropriate to highlight letters discussing drought, high temperatures and other blinking-red indicators of humanity’s self-immiseration via climate change.

There has been no shortage of articles in The Times on the subject recently, including a report on the drought-weakened Russian River in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, and an editorial on the Pacific Northwest heat wave. Things are dry, as they often are this time of year in Los Angeles, and the heat has been elevated but not close to intolerable — and certainly not like the 121 degrees seen in British Columbia this week. Still, the exceptional heat in parts of the West where some Angelenos escape for cooler weather, and the warnings of drought-stricken vegetation in our local mountains, put us on high alert.

Reading about them might even help with our illegal fireworks problem.


To the editor: The heat wave baking the Pacific Northwest has been called a “1,000-year event.” Good luck with that.


As the ever-hotter future that humanity has baked into the climate unfolds, regional heat and other climate emergencies won’t even be 1,000-month events — that’s 83 years. This week’s super-heat wave up north, sadly, won’t wait until 2104 to recur.

Realistically, these horrors won’t even be 1,000-week events. Does anyone seriously think the next heat emergency slamming our northern neighbors will not happen again until 2040?

Gregory Wright, Sherman Oaks


To the editor: When it comes to global warming, adaptation is capitulation, dooming civilization to a heat death.

There is an old folk song about a truck driving down the mountain into Scranton with a load of bananas and losing his brakes. Things do not get better on the way down. There is drama, but no suspense.

It is the same with global warming. We have to be on a path to stopping it in its tracks. We are in trouble already.


In 2009, about 80% of our energy came from fossil fuels, the same as today. We have made no inroads into fossil fuel dominance.

To think that in this era of environmental crisis we are led by politicians, lawyers and scribblers, in the context of a pernicious propaganda campaign keeping people in the dark about what we are facing, is horrifying. We are in a battle for our children’s lives.

Forty years ago, a glide path to a carbon-free future was both realistic and affordable. But now the monies that should be going to prevention are instead being sucked up by disaster recovery and adaptation. Prevention is still waiting in the queue.

Siegfried Othmer, Woodland Hills


To the editor: As Sarah Jaquette Ray points out in her op-ed article, “You can use your climate anxiety for immense good. The planet needs you to be resilient, not anxious to the point of debilitation.”

People with climate anxiety aren’t the problem. When it comes to being “anxious to the point of debilitation,” it’s GOP politicians who are the problem. They need to stop fearing retribution from the “Make America Great Again” crowd.


Just as COVID-19 did not disappear and Donald Trump did not win the election, climate change is not a hoax. GOP politicians need to face the facts and take action to address the climate crisis, starting with legislation that puts a price on carbon.

Shani Murray, Placentia


To the editor: I am often ignored when I talk about the causes of climate change and what we should be doing to reduce it.

A wealthy friend of mine is on recreational travel around the world three months a year. He understands the causes of climate change but has no guilt about his contribution. With only a few years of life left, he couldn’t care less.

Happily, with COVID-19 less of a problem, cruise ships are back in business producing carbon dioxide. Bottom line: Capitalism and climate change are incompatible. It’s all about money, jobs and fun.

Roger Newell, San Diego



To the editor: Thanks to reporter Diana Marcum for her report on the devastation of the Russian River due to climate change.

Seeing the river with fires, floods, droughts and people moving away makes it just another brick in the climate denial wall. The article caught me dreaming of selling my Orange County home and moving to Marin or Sonoma.

Now, it most likely will be the stuff of nightmares — drowning in floods, burned by fire, living in a ghost town and imagining the wet half of the country saying California deserves its climate change problems. Pick any reason; they have used them all. They want their god-fearing representatives to stall California’s attempts to reduce our impact on the climate.

Steve Foster, Coto de Caza


To the editor: Why wait for mandatory water conservation? It’s time to stop pretending we live in a place where green grass is normal.

Let’s rethink our landscaping and use plants that actually belong here — California natives. Let’s turn off our home irrigation systems, especially the ones that send streams of precious water onto streets and down storm drains.


If you think fake grass solves the problem, forget it. Artificial turf just makes things hotter and ends up contributing to plastic pollution.

I’ve started educating myself. You can too with information from the California Native Plant Society. We can save water and the California that we love, but only if we try.

Janice Blake, Manhattan Beach