Its Catching on Like Wildfire

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Its Catching on Like Wildfire

I wonder if we get too much information, about things we can’t control and affect us only peripherally.  I want information about my industry so I can know what’s going on and adjust to upcoming trends and see new ideas. But do I need to know extensive details about volcanoes in Chile or tornadoes in Oklahoma? Am I really concerned about the Kardashians or whether a new movie is released in Bollywood?

A friend in NY sent me a link to an article in the New York Times about the fire season in California.  It was extensive, telling the story of one major fire (the Lake fire) here near LA and how four years of drought had put tremendous pressure on fire fighters and was a harbinger of the end of the world.

I have lived in fire areas, have had fire retardant dropped on my head as I covered evacuations, and when I was little I prayed that the good Lord would protect my house from the fire not 200 yards away. I know about fires in the forests and brush lands of California.

First, fires are necessary to the environment.  They kill off insects and blight that kill the trees.   They thin the herds of the weak and sick. They clear out underbrush and weaker trees so the strong can survive. They have been doing this for thousands of years.

As we move into the brush and forests, build our homes surrounded by sage, chaparral, scrub oak and pepper trees, suddenly we are concerned about the fires.  We stop them as soon as we can. We spend millions on fire suppression. And in doing so, we allow the brush to increase, the insects to take over, and, yes, screw a bit with Mother Nature.

A few years ago, when we had plenty of rain and plenty of water, we were told that the increase of rain would mean a bad fire season, as the underbrush and grasses were thriving, and would be fuel for the summer/fall fire season. When the temperatures started to rise, the thick brush and grass would dry out, and the slightest spark would set off a conflagration that was impossible to stop.

Now our betters from the east are telling us that its due to the drought that fires are bad and if only we had those extra inches of rainfall last winter, all would be well. Huh?

All this information is overwhelming.  It causes us to worry, to stew, to complain, to blame. But frankly, I can’t see much difference this year from any year after four years of drought. And we have had them before, at least every 10 years or so, we have a drought. What’s new?

We get all this information, and first we want to fix it (we can’t) and then we want to blame someone (its not their fault).

I read last spring that climate change would affect the normal weather patterns here in Los Angeles. We normally have what we call “May Gray” and “June Gloom” on LA’s west side. We get up in the morning to overcast skies that clear by noonish. Sometimes they don’t clear at all.  This is caused by the heat in the deserts to the east drawing cooler wet air from the ocean. The article in the paper said that this would change as the deserts were going to cool (Climate change) thus not drawing in the fog from the ocean.

Its is the 15th of July. It is overcast and has been virtually every day since Mid May. Did I really need a story in April about how my life was going to change due to the weather.  Just more drivel to clog the neurons.

To end a drought we need an “El Nino” effect.  The waters warm in the western Pacific and it rains in California.  The term comes from the fact that the early Christians in the area noticed that on certain years, it rained more around Christmas than on others. “El Nino”, the Christ Child, brought the life giving water.  Been going on for centuries.

My only fear is that they are predicting a strong “El Nino” effect this year, and thus an end to the drought. “They” have been wrong about virtually everything else, I pray they are right about this.

Just more to worry about.

JVH

John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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