Oregon, along with the rest of the western U.S., is experiencing a two-decade-long megadrought, say researchers. It has left our lands dry and more vulnerable to fire than in more than 1,200 years. While the smoke over the Willamette Valley is largely gone, many fires are still burning. And the fear, loss, deaths and sorrow still shroud our state.

If only the bad news were just regional. In Siberia, 18,591 fires tore across at least 35 million acres this summer, some of them blazing north of the tree line, burning tundra as a record-breaking heatwave hit, including a 100 degree day in June.

Australia’s fires burned more than 27 million acres in January; Brazil’s ongoing fires have now engulfed 10% of the wetlands known as the Pantanal. In recent years European, South American and African nations have experienced more extreme wildfires than ever before.

This is the face of climate change for those of us living in western Oregon. If we lived in Miami, we would fret over sea water bubbling up through manhole covers and flooding our neighborhoods with every high tide; across the Gulf states and Eastern Seaboard we’d have to worry about larger and slower-traveling hurricanes. Pick your poison: We’re in the West and for us it’s fires.

Climate change isn’t just something our grandchildren, not us, will have to confront. It’s here and now, and, as Pope Francis said, mainly “a result of human activity.” The pope said we must hear “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

We are the hands and feet of Christ in this world. The earth and the poor are depending on us.