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1) I look out the window at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Recent floods have scarred their flanks. Deep pine forests that once cascaded luxuriantly over the crests are thinning out. Now patches of pine trees attacked by the mountain pine beetle die and turn a strangely violent rust color. As if burned, they turn black and ashy. The forest’s silhouette, running from peak to peak, is no longer soft and verdant. Spikes of skeletal trunks and branches scratch at the sky. It’s a sign: the world we know is moving to its end.

The warmer weather, scientists say, the diminished periods of deep cold. More larvae of the pine beetle now survive. And now, if we drive deeper into the mountains, we pass through vast swaths of dead forest, brittle, gray and black, almost indistinguishable from the acres and acres decimated by summer forest fires that recently lit up the night skies. I cannot bear to drive there now.

These phenomena mirror the great changes we see on television and read in the papers: melting polar caps, sea glaciers breaking apart, mountain glaciers shrinking; the expanding deserts, the ferocious territorial wars, people in hazmat suits helping those stricken with new diseases, streams of desperate migrants by the millions. Scientists predict worse to come. The civilization we inhabit is beginning to break. We have all heard this. Assumptions and certainties are caving in.

There is a feeling of being slowly swallowed, anesthetized. We cannot think how to resist. We watch, horrified, spellbound.

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