Wheel of Dystopia

I’m writing this after spending the day hunkered down indoors next to an air purifier, as I have the good fortune of being in Washington state while it’s home to some of the world’s worst air pollution. For the second year in a row, smoke from wildfires has rendered the normally refreshing air practically unbreathable. My primary source of entertainment these days is checking air quality monitoring websites for signs of ominous red and purple bulges making their way down from Canada. Fires in other parts of Washington aren’t helping.

As if things didn’t already feel apocalyptic enough, there’s something about these wildfire episodes, with their sickly grayish-orange skies and sense of entrapment, that truly give one the sense that the end of the Anthropocene is nigh. Scientists say that warming temperatures plus population growth in burn-prone areas are causing the surge in wildfires; meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is, of course, blaming environmentalists. Hard to see how we come back from this brink, since we’re already so far over it.


  • ACounter

    This cartoon hits close to home. I moved to Oregon this month and for three days recently, there was smoke in the air from the Washington fires. I had left coastal North Carolina in May of this year partly because there were 110º heat index days there last year. Well, last week in Pendleton, Oregon there was a 107º day. It was still preferable to the 110º heat index days in NC. I lived in Florida in the mid-1990′s and it was way too hot even then. I’d open the door at 6 am to go running and be blasted by the steam, and soaked with sweat after running for two blocks. It must be worse now.

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.