|Norm's Soapbox- My corner of Hyde Park|
You hear it all around: "Why?" The cause of the fires and floods, "natural disasters" proves to be of a human nature. The chain is extended, but the ego-centric nature of western man proves to be the cause. You doubt this? let me lead you through the chain.
"Not in my back yard" has been a cry for decades. In the name of protection, we have created great destruction. For more than last half century we have practiced absolute fire suppression, for after all, isn't fire destructive? Well, nature needs fire to balance things, and it did for millennia, and we eliminated the balance. We decided to stop all fire, because it could destroy what we wanted to keep. Instead of a mass transit system that would get all of us (janitor and CEO) where we need to go with less energy, we all must drive (even half blind, 502's, befuddled), polluting the air. We insist all is for man, water, air, and land, not the rest of nature's inhabitants, ignoring that man is dependent on nature.
All this weakens the trees, most of which would have been removed by a small, cool fire every five to fifteen years, so there are too many for the paltry amount of water Southern California normally gets, and they can not resist the bark beetle, and when the periodic drought strikes, they die. With no fire to remove the excessive new growth and old, dead brush every few years, all too many die in a competition for too little water. The chaparral plants often have burls to allow them to survive natural fires, hold the soil, and flourish afterward. We created this condition with too much vegetation competing for the water, and dead matter accumulating until the fire will be a fire storm, incinerating all, making way for flooding.
Pyromania is part of the common language, but funding for mental health is a low priority. While you may not punish a child, for fear of imprisonment, we rather imprison more citizens than any other developed country after some anti-social behavior than work to prevent it. Since our society values the dramatic to such a great degree, is it surprising that some one starts a huge fire to get attention, and divert their attention form their own problems? Is that cheaper than the alternatives?
Mental health support for the most challenged, not just the wealthy, can remove one link in this deadly chain. Insuring fire keeps our natural environment healthy, recycling the dead material as it is supposed to, and removing the excess and weak elements regularly would prevent the catastrophic event. Reducing the sprawl ("I want nature next to me, but not with the risks that are a part of it- trees and brush, but no fire, floods, noisy birds, chewing rodents, or predatory mountain lions") and allowing the half-blind and 502's to get to work without driving would allow better air, and less problem with a controlled burn. That would, God forbid, require that we acknowledge that we all depend on each other, not the Red Cross.
You don't believe it is ego? Consider that homes are lost when fire crews must spend time to rescue those that refused to comply with the "mandatory evacuation." They can not save their own home, but are allowed to keep the professional fire fighter from saving the homes of others by requiring rescue and clogging access. They may die, and we mourn, and loose more homes, because they could not allow those that have training and experience to do their job to save all of us from the dividends of our behavior.
Building is hard. Destruction is easy.