As reported by Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle today, Friday, October 20, 2017: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Little-tears-of-joy-falling-from-the-skies-12293647.php, the San Francisco Bay Area finally got some heaven-sent rain (over ½-inch in wildfire-stricken Sonoma County) yesterday.
This was an immediate help to exhausted, heroic firefighters working for seemingly endless 24-hour days to extinguish numerous fires in Sonoma (especially hard hit), Napa, Mendocino and even Marin counties. Now that the light rain, cooler temperatures and diminished winds have dampened hillsides and speed fire containment, it’s time to face and address the twins fires still raging here—and everywhere on Earth: climate change and deforestation.
Both globally and here in California, unprecedentedly rampant wildfires are due to several cascading, coalescing factors. But the root causes are:
1) anthropogenic climate change, which brings hotter, drier weather, plant pathogens, and longer autumn fire seasons, and;
2) forest destruction, meaning fewer trees which slow fires down. Yes, that’s right, counter-intuitive though it may seem, trees, compared with grasslands and brush, slow widlfires down.
When trees are cut down for lumber, or die from pathogens like SODS, or are cut down by “native” plant extremists’ in their Orwellian-named “restoration” projects—killing Bad “invasive” eucalyptus and pines, e.g., and “replacing” these beneficial mature trees with Good “native” oak, bay or redwoods saplings—what results instead is deforestation and the flourishing of grasses, brooms, thistles, poison oak and other faster-burning smaller, drier plants. Fire danger increases because all these small plants burn faster and more uncontrollably than do trees and forests of any species. All trees are windbreaks, condense fog onto their leaves, drip precious water to the ground, moisten soil and plants below. This key scientific reality bears repeating: trees and forests REDUCE wildfire risk; cutting them down INCREASES wildfire danger.
Sure, let’s find arsonists and investigate P,G&E power lines. But in the meantime, people, let’s tackle the underlying, bigger, more critically important problems. Let’s recognize that we desperately need more trees and forests NOW. And, here we go: we need to act immediately, today, collectively, bigly, on human-caused climate change and reduce carbon emissions in all sectors of society.
Thankfully, the science-acknowledging citizens of California can take collective action even when Washington denies science—and reality. And collectively the world knows we must take global warming mitigating, pollution-reducing action even if Washington, co-opted by fossil fuel industry money, won’t. To do everything-but, to not act as if all our lives depend on reducing carbon emissions and ending deforestation—including global deforestation’s number one driver, raising cattle for human consumption—is all just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
We won’t be able to say we didn’t know what was coming in the way of floods, drought, mega-storms and mega-fires. We’ll only be able to say we didn’t have the guts to act. America can do better. Humanity can do better. Our survival depends on it.
- Jack Gescheidt, TreeSpirit Project founder