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Posts Tagged ‘July 4th’

Welcome to Southern California. Contrary to popular belief, we DO have four seasons here: earthquake, fire, flood, and riot. Presently it is heading into fire season, otherwise known as summer to the rest of the northern hemisphere. Though, like with all seasonal transitions, earthquake still has a few last kicks to it, giving us a M3.2 burp as I write this, only a few miles from my house. At least, according to the news it happened. Anything less than books flopping off shelves I tend to not notice. The jaded laissez-faire reality of living here most of my life.

This transitional period is affectionately called shake and bake by us locals. All the heat without the flavor. Instead of getting mouth-watering pork chops, you just run outside because your house is collapsing, and get fried by the giant bug zapper in the sky. The end.

 

california-the-original-shake-n-bake-eartquakes-wildfires-he-demotivational-posters-1466693472

Do you want fries with that?

 

It’s not that I’m unafraid of such things. I’ve been through several significant temblors in my time, including Ferndale (Cape Mendocino) in 1992, and Whittier Narrows in 1987, the latter of which caught me driving into downtown L.A. on the Hollywood Freeway. You’ve not lived until you’ve seen a skyscraper ripple. But there’s not a lot you can do about earthquakes except ride them out and be prepared for afterwards. They offer almost no warning and cover huge swaths of geography, making them almost impossible to avoid. And the bulk of the shifting is done in a matter of seconds. It may take days, months, or even years to clean up and rebuild, but the sheer terror is over pretty quickly, allowing us to shake our fists at the government for their lack of instantaneous and perfect response all the quicker.

Wildfires, on the other hand, scare the fuck out of me. Part of that, I’m sure, is the primal lizard brain and its programming to fear fire just ‘cause. But the majority is because I’ve seen what they do. Wild, often unpredictable, they can mosey along at ground level keeping down the underbrush while a herd of elk graze nearby. Or they can blast flaming tornadoes a hundred feet tall, incinerating just about everything in the way in seconds.

We’ve been lucky in that we’ve never been directly affected by wildfires. Fires have teased the borders of where we live, leaving the air thick with smoke. But we haven’t had it any worse. Unfortunately, we do know many people who have. From being evacuated as a precaution and then returning to a house largely unscathed, to mad-dashing to the car with child/animal/laptop in hand as the raging inferno engulfs everything they ever owned mere seconds behind them. It may be fascinating to watch on the news, until you recognize the house of your friend going up in smoke. And then it is just heartbreaking.

 

fire-danger-wmrk

Off the chart takes on a whole new meaning.

 

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are thirty large wildfires active in the US right now. The majority of them are in western states. Arizona leads the way with seven. Right behind them is California, with four. And these numbers are considered light for this time of year. After the wet winter we had, which encouraged all sorts of wild flora to spring up just about everywhere, the dry summer will cook it all to crispy tinder just waiting for something to spark off the flames until flood season returns and mudslides put out the fires still not fully contained after days – and even weeks – of effort.

A study by the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Earth Lab revealed over 80% of wildfires during the period 1992 to 2012 were caused by humans. Over one-fifth were directly attributed to arsonists. Because, like Alfred said in The Dark Knight, some men just like to watch the world burn. And the study also found that more fires were started on the 4th of July than on any other day of the year. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to have a holiday at the height of summer feature fireworks and alcohol.

 

4th-july-alcohol

Or maybe just stay inside and have ice cream.

 

With climate change bringing about longer and warmer springs and summers, as well as increasing the range and duration of drought, fire season will only grow longer and more dangerous. We as stewards to this fine little blue marble need to take better care of her. The danger isn’t that the planet will be destroyed if we don’t’, it’s that WE will be destroyed. Short of being blown completely apart, Earth will be around long after we’ve led ourselves to oblivion. Just maybe not in a form we would recognize.

So, in the long term, doing something about pollution and renewable energy will serve to give us a nice place to keep living. We have the technology to have our toys and live WITH the planet at the same time. It’s just a matter of will. We need to put the planet and its people before profits. Which means getting the politicians out of the mix and handing things back to the scientists before it’s too late.

In the mean time, we do our part in our own little neck of the world. And we stay prepared. Because no matter where you are, so is Mother Nature. And she’ll get you sooner or later…

 

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/make-a-plan

https://emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/kit/disasters/index.asp

https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness

https://www.ready.gov/

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