We Need to Let California Burn, and Focus on Our Future

Embracing a nomadic life so we can survive a changing world

Photo by Michael Held on Unsplash

We’re patching a sinking ship…

A reality check

This isn’t only about California.

This is about us no longer wasting our valuable resources to continually rebuild areas & lifestyles that are doomed to be relegated to the past. It’s extremely expensive and we need to stop giving people a false sense of security. It won’t serve us well for very long.

U.S. Fire administration

The hurricanes destroying our coastal states will keep setting records, droughts will get more long and intense, and the flooding will all get worse. At this point, we aren’t realistically going to change that.

And this is just the beginning.

We need to stop setting ourselves up to be run out of our homes, to lose everything, to possibly lose family members, just to come back and do it all over again.

We need to see the writing on the wall and get out while we can. We need to use those efforts to start building a more sustainable solution for all of us… if any of us are going to make it.

The planet is warming up and becoming more inhospitable, and whether you want to argue whose fault that may or may not be, it’s happening all the same.

NOAA Climate.gov

I know that we love the lives we’ve come to expect: being able to live in a single location and set down roots for ourselves and our families. But we need to stop wasting resources on a luxury that we can no longer afford, and channel those efforts and resources into accommodating for the future we’ll have.

Just because we “will” an area to be hospitable doesn’t mean it will be. We aren’t entitled to a stable climate, and we haven’t acted in a way to extend one of these rare periods either. We can keep fighting it for a while, but it’s a wasted effort. In the process we will waste not only money, but precious time.

Nothing is owed to us as a species, not even our survival.

We can adapt or we can fall.

Their is no fairness in nature. It’s actually the same way today as it’s always been, we’ve just gotten better at putting off the inevitable. No amount of wishing for stability was ever going to stop an iceberg from crushing a village tens of thousands of years ago, and it’s not going to stop our storms from destroying our cities now either. We are locked in a battle fighting the forces of nature.

We need to stop rebuilding.

But there is good news:

We can get ourselves, our families, and our lives out of harm’s way. It’s just going to take us going back to our roots. We’ve done it many times before as a species, and it’s time to do it again.

Photo by Trevor Cole on Unsplash

The good news

This is nothing new for us

The world may be changing, becoming more inhospitable; but we’ve survived this before.

In fact, this future is actually our norm.

For much of human existence, we didn’t have the luxury of staying put, we moved when and where we needed to survive. For at least 95% of our history we were hunter & gathers living a nomadic life. We’re currently living through the return of that necessity.

We’ve been around for over 300,000 years. Only about 12,000 years ago did we get a rare break in the weather the form of a warm and stable climate for such a long period of time. During that short time (relatively speaking), we’ve created large scale agriculture, and society as we know it. Our population has spiked to where we are today (a far cry from the fairly stable human population of 5 million that was pretty constant for a majority of our history), and we’ve created advanced civilizations quite different from the nomadic bands that we lived in for a majority of our time here.

For at least 95% of our history we were hunter & gathers living a nomadic life.

Isn’t it odd to think that the world we’ve created is actually the anomolly in our human history?

We didn’t have a choice then, and we need to see that we don’t now.

We didn’t have the tech that we do now, and if we can step up to the plate and prepare for the inevitable, we can make a nomadic life much more luxurious, more organized and less apocalyptic than it could otherwise be. In fact, many humans around the world today are actually still nomadic. We can learn from those still practicing our original lifestyle.

Photo by Malik Osmonov on Unsplash

So much will need to change

Our strength has always been in our ability to adapt, and although it won’t be easy, we can make it happen.

I’m not saying that I have all of the answers, far from it. That’s why we need all of us putting our efforts towards solving the real problem, not band-aiding a festering wound.

Do I think we’ll be fully nomadic in my lifetime? Probably not. But we already have areas where it just doesn’t make sense for people to keep living full-time. Yet we keep rebuilding. I don’t think we’ll be able to keep it up for long.

How would our world change if we were to roam when and where we need to in order to survive, rather than remaining tucked away in our homes?

Some preliminary thoughts

Borders would likely fall away as we know them. We might be more drawn to identities based on our ethnic groups and shared traditions rather than birth locations. Our nationalistic identities would likely fade. With it, one has to wonder how a tax system based on a permanent address would change, how passports would be enforced with no “home country”, how military structure and participation would change, and what laws would apply to each band of people.

We would need to heavily beef up our infrastructure like roads and bridges to handle all of us traveling extensively along new routes, most likely carting everything we own across them regularly. We would need nimble and livable homes to make these journeys in and to settle into once we arrive. RV’s and Tiny Homes on wheels would likely be an early prototype, but would both need a big facelift if their main purpose was for permanent housing and long treks rather than occasional recreation. We would also need to find a way to move our people that currently can’t move themselves. This might necessitate the need for a stronger family cohesion.

If we wanted to maintain our current economic system rather than fully go back to our full on hunter-gatherer days, we would need to make some big changes to work and school alike. Entire businesses would have to relocate with their traveling customers as locations empty out during certain times of the year.

Land ownership might return to meaning very little, as we would all be moving constantly. But I can also see a world where we keep land private and make profit off of seasonal stays when an area isn’t burning or being flooded.

These are just a few of the things that came to mind, but the changes we’d need to make would obviously be huge. It’s not a question of whether we’ll take challenges like these on, it’s a question of when we’ll take them on.

Photo by Jack Cohen on Unsplash


This time period that we’re currently living in has allowed us to create the world that we know today. Unfortunately a stable climate isn’t the norm for our species, and we’re on the brink of no longer getting to reap it’s benefits. Our world is quickly turning into a place where we can’t sustain the sedentary & agricultural lifestyle we’ve grown accustomed to.

We need to embrace this and adapt before it’s too late.

If we keep going on our current path, we will have spent all of our energy and resources propping up a memory of a life rather than building the life that’s on the horizon.

If we don’t act soon, we will have missed our window to shape what our future of nomadism out of necessity, will look like.

Designing my best life & helping others do the same | Digital Nomad | UX Designer & Innovator

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store