California’s Political Leaders Made Wildfire Season Worse
A few years ago, I blithely drove toward the Humboldt redwood forests across the coastal ranges without checking the morning road updates. Let’s just say that moving along in a small metal box with fires raging on both sides of Highway 20 gives one a new appreciation of the perilous work firefighters do to contain such blazes.
As another grueling fire season grips California, I understand growing concerns about a widely reported lack of firefighting resources. Although structure fires and, especially, paramedic calls comprise the bulk of calls to local fire departments, there’s no question that arid California needs a boisterous system for battling blazes in its expansive forests. Wildfires are as predictable as the rising sun, but the state doesn’t do a great job preparing for them.
“More than 930,000 acres have burned so far in Northern and Central California—an area larger than the land mass of Rhode Island—with little containment, in part because firefighting resources are stretched beyond capacity by the number of blazes,” according to a report last week in the Los Angeles Times. The Ocean State would barely make a decent-sized county here, but that’s still an incredible amount of tinder.
The article noted that California officials have had to make “tough choices on which (wildfires) to fight” and that “officials said they were being turned down for state help and left to beg equipment and manpower from volunteers and local agencies.” State officials have little choice but to allow some amazing forestlands, including redwood groves, to burn to the ground.
Most of the ongoing debates about firefighting center on broader environmental and regulatory issues. Predictably, climate-change activists blame global warming. “Temperatures rose about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit statewide while precipitation dropped 30 percent since 1980,” according to a Scientific American article in April about a Stanford University study. Researchers blame this heat rise for an increase in the days in which fire risk is at the highest.
Others blame California’s
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