Living with the daily news of death and destruction from California’s wildfires and looking out our windows on what used to be a view of hills and San Francisco Bay, it is difficult not to be overcome by uneasiness. Those of us who live in the immediate Bay Area are, at this moment, lucky. The fires in Paradise and the Los Angeles area are hundreds of miles away. Everyone, though, knows people who have lost their houses, pets and livelihoods. I have not met anyone whose loved ones are on the lists of the missing but every day all of us hope that those people turn up.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, the air quality index on Friday was “extremely unhealthy.” In Sacramento, where my sisters live, it was rated “hazardous.” In our area most of the schools, from Kindergarten through college, have closed to protect students’ lungs.
This horror is not, as the president has claimed, simply a problem created by forest mismanagement. It is much more complicated than that, which you can read about here. California has endured five years of drought that caused more than 100 million trees to die. Try to manage that! California is not only a place of beaches, palm trees and Yosemite. It has huge unpopulated areas, deserts, and a vast acreage of hills covered by dry yellow grass (from which it got its name: The Golden State). The dangerous weather cycle is drought, fire, heavy rainstorms and then mudslides. Droughts are more frequent in California now. The weather is changing and we haven’t yet had those blessed November rains that would have prevented the current fires. California is not the only place this is happening. I lived in New England for 20+ years and people there talk about how the weather has changed, too.
I feel too sad and uneasy to launch into a diatribe about global warning, but spare me the idiocy of blaming only forest mismanagement.