Long Shadows

What does ‘Cast a long shadow’ mean?

‘Something or someone that casts a long shadow has considerable influence on other people or events, usually negative.’

I have been thinking about the long shadows being cast by the pandemic and the climate fires.

Thinking about the pandemic:

  • Worldwide there have been 942,000 deaths, of those 197,000 have been in the US and, of those, 748 have been people in King County. From what I know, dying from COVID is not a pain free, peaceful passing.  And we know most these people died without family or friends at their side.
  • Business closures are increasing. As of August 31st, over 160,000 businesses have closed.  Of those, 60% won’t be reopening.
  • People have lost their jobs, and many of those could least afford to take the hit.
  • In classroom education is up in the air….indefinitely
  • We still have spotty shortages of PPE and inadequate testing capacity. While mask use has increased, 11% of adults say they won’t wear a mask.

Now the climate fires:

  • Our air quality has been unhealthy for a number of days, much worse than Beijing.  I went out for a walk because I was going nuts and it was the equivalent of smoking 7 cigarettes. Note: the people in Portland have been breathing hazardous air.  The only way to be outside safely is with a N-95 mask – see shortage above.
  • Over 587,000 acres have burned in WA so far.  California and Oregon have fared much worse. Over 500,000 people and countless animals have been evacuated.
  • Fourteen people have died so far. I don’t know how many animals have died.
  • The forecast for improving air seems to be a moving target.

While these too shall pass, I have been thinking about both catastrophes from a ‘long shadow’ perspective. 

People will be grieving the loss of their loved ones from COVID, the loss of their livelihood, and the loss of the world they once knew for a long time to come.  Yes, businesses fail all the time.  But this feels different due to the magnitude and the fact starting over in a pandemic isn’t a slam dunk. The wealth disparities and impact on people of color will/could get even worse. And what about the kids and their education – can they bounce back?

I think the climate fires have foreshadowed the world we will be living in as our climate continues to change.  Now I don’t think that grim future is all that far away!

I realize this isn’t a very uplifting way to end the week.  Then I found this quote:

“….I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”

A Christmas Carol

Back on Monday, hopefully breathing cleaner air by then.  Have a safe weekend.



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