Finally, someone nailed the California fire problem. An opinion piece by Silas Lyons, executive editor for north central California for the USA TODAY Network in that newspaper's Wednesday edition poked around the problem as well as anything I've seen lately.
He and I both lament the devastation and grieve with those who have lost their homes and for Paradise, businesses and entire livelihoods. That all of us, through instant media, must share the emotional trauma of this is a burden we may not have been programmed to bear, as humans. But know it we do, and grieve we do.
After that, though, comes the time of evaluation. And he says poignantly: "Many of us are also good and angry. Like New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina, none of this is a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention."
The only thing worse than tragedy is tragedy created by neglect. So what's the neglect? He puts his fingers on it in the rest of the column: "dry forests, tangled with brush. . . In response to rapacious logging, environmental lawsuits shut the chainsaws out of the forests without any reasonable plan to replace their work of thinning and fire-breaking.
"We pursued policies of aggressively extinguishing small beneficial wildfires, instead letting vegetation build up until there was no such thing as a small, 'good' fire anymore . . . "
The pre-European American landscape was not a vast wilderness like baby boomers learned in history class. Neither was Australia. Neither was New Zealand. It was a manicured landscape by indigenous peoples, producing more food than it does today.
The anti-human, anti-animal, anti-cow, anti-livestock veganistic urban radically ignorant environmentalist cult surrounding land use management, epitomized in California's demographics, is expressing its result there more than anywhere. The ecological firestorm resulting from wealthy elitists divorced from dirt-under-the-fingernails involvement with the land, but injecting themselves and their hubris into it, is the political fuel for this very real human suffering.
Thinning the trees, yes with chainsaws and chippers, to compost all the factory farm manure in the state would be a great starting point. Then bringing in herbivores to graze all that understory: goats, sheep, cows. Yes, those burping, farting herbivorous pruners, the ultimate human security. And underneath that pruned biomass a newborn healthy population of methanotrophic bacteria, gobbling down methane and transferring it to glomalin. Wow, what we could have if we'd only pay attention to authentic ecology.
So while we weep over the real human suffering, we should weep more over our own ignorance, our failure to steward. Included in that, of course, is hydration. A farmer cannot build a pond bigger than a bathtub in California. If the state were covered with ponds, imagine what a difference it would make. Nothing is more important in parched landscapes. If all the money currently spent to reimburse and rebuild homes and infrastructure from these explosive fires were spent on carbon management and hydration (permaculture style ponds in high valleys), the state would be habitable again and the earthworms would dance.
How many of these fires and how long will it be, do you think, before people realize that integrated symbiotic mega-fauna and mega-flora are nature's template?