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I was coming back from visiting my boyfriend who was moving into his house in Humboldt. It was around 2pm and I had just crossed into Oregon when the sky began to dim. This large cloud hung like a blanket over the area. At first I thought that it was strange, but that maybe it would just blow over. As I kept driving, though, it just got worse until it seemed like I was looking at the whole world through an orange-tinted filter. This kept going for miles as I drove through Brookings. At one point I pulled off to the side of the road to take a picture and, more importantly, research what was going on.

Turns out, a huge forest fire was and still is blazing through Southwestern Oregon and Northwestern California. Called the Chetco Bar Fire, it has already burned through 70,000 acres of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and caused the evacuation of 300 homes. It began a month ago and fire fighters are still trying to get a handle on it.

Even though forest fires can be good for the local ecosystem, seeing the sky ablaze for miles made me think of how extreme the climate has already gotten over the years. We are seeing the effects of climate change already with our very eyes and I don’t like the look of it at all.

When I got back in my car and continued driving to OIMB, I began thinking more about my purpose and what I wanted to dedicate my time to. Seeing forest fires, taking ocean acidification and writing articles about pyrosome invasions and sea star wasting has increased my urgency to stop climate change. If everything ends up going to shit anyways, I want to make sure that I do my very best to make the world healthy again.

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