Rain lingers over parts of California from big, slow-moving storm systems. That’s a good thing because it keeps wildfires from getting out of control. So do droughts. This past week and last have brought record-setting fire danger for the state.
There are a few good reasons to worry now. The average annual growth rate for fires in California is three times the national average of one percent. We have one of the hottest and driest years on record, and the climate models warn that there won’t be enough growth left in the ground by the time we get to full-blown climate change.
We’re facing the prospect of one big die-off, and that’s the kind of disaster that can be difficult to handle when you’re dealing with people or equipment who aren’t used to dealing with such things.
And then, of course, there’s wildfire. We have plenty of time to deal with these things, but at some point we’re going to start taking on this problem. It doesn’t need to be catastrophic. It can be a bad enough problem that we’re going to have to deal with it. This is one of the reasons it’s good to be an elected official in California.
There isn’t any kind of single-mindedly right response to these things, because there are so many different factors to consider.
Here are some of the key ones and what each of us can do to help.
California could become the next Colorado
Colorado was a tough place to burn. It had a lot of history and was one of the first places in the USA to have some kind of state-supported smoke-free legislation. But by the time I got there, the state has become what happens when you make a list of the things you hate doing the most, add a few extra things you love, and add them all together.
The result today is a state with too much water that isn’t being used to the proper limit for its water resources. Most of the state is in a drought, with less than 12% of the