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What's for Dinner?

Insights + Opinion
What's for Dinner?

Stefanie Penn Spear

I'm on vacation with my kids in Florida, visiting my parents. I've been coming to this same spot for more than two decades, and love soaking in the sun and running on the beach. More or less, the entire vacation is relaxing and a great way to recharge for the new year.

However, my parents and I do not always see eye to eye on the best places to eat, and my parents are accustomed to eating out every night! I try my hardest to go with the flow, no matter where they choose to eat. However, last night they chose to eat at one of the many roadside barbeque franchises. Knowing I'm a vegetarian, my mom said, Don't worry, they have a great salad bar. After we walked into the restaurant and I checked out the salad bar, I quickly realized that french fries would have to do for my meal.

My mom asked what I thought of the salad bar and I told her no way. She checked it out for herself, came back to the table and said come on let's go. So we left and began our pursuit for a restaurant where we'd all be happy.

I have to admit I was really glad to go. Not just because I was super hungry and wouldn't have had a fulfilling meal, but since we had just published a piece on this site encouraging comments to protect waterways from factory farming waste, it just didn't seem right to support a chain restaurant that undoubtedly gets its meat from a factory farm.

There are a few great local restaurants that we all love, but we had already visited them at least once. After driving by many of the typical chain restaurants that live on the streets of every state, we finally found Thailand Kitchen. Though the experience leading up to what turned out to be a great meal wasn't all that enjoyable, it was a great way to demonstrate to my kids and parents how the choices we make each day have a huge impact on human health and the environment.

Not that they haven't heard all this before, since my kids have to live with me every day and my parents know me really well, but it did drive the point home about the importance of supporting local restaurants that provide healthier alternatives.

Each day we all have the choice of how we spend our dollar. Fortunately, in most communities, people have the opportunity to support companies that embrace sustainability—people, planet, profit—and enrich the community. I'm glad I had the opportunity last night to encourage the people closet to me to value the right to choose and do what's best for today and future generations.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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