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Fire, fire -


Anjuli_Bai
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As I type there are several fires burning just north of San Diego.  The City of Carlsbad is particularly in danger.  But others are in the path.

 

People are running through the streets frantically to get away.  Cars of others fleeing are picking up the runners to get them to safety.   Schools are being evacuated.  11,000 people are under immediate evacuation orders and other evacuation orders are going out.

 

 And now the houses are starting to burn.  The fire is headed to densely inhabited areas - and might go all the way to the ocean.

 

It's so hard watching on TV as someone's home - large or small - goes up in flames.

 

For those of you who pray - a prayer for those affected.

 

Any kind thoughts for the safety of so many ........- 

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There are now 8 fires burning in the County.   It has been warm and very dry - with only 1-5% humidity.   

 

So, far - no one has been hurt.  It will be a rough night for thousands of displaced people.  Many are volunteering to help move animals - especially large ones such as horses.  200 hundred were moved out of an animal rescue shelter and a cat seen looking out of a window was rescued when the owner who went to work this morning (before the fire started) couldn't get back to the house.

 

The city/county is very well prepared for this kind of thing with helicopters and huge tanker planes dropping retardant and water.  I remember in one fire - which burned clear down to the ocean - the planes were scooping up water from the Pacific.

 

Let's hope it continues that no one gets injured. 

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My husband was saying that it's unseasonably hot in northern California at the moment so I hope they don't start getting fires there. That huge fire in the East Bay hills in 1991 happened while we were living just across the bay and I still remember the black sky in the middle of the afternoon. Really awful.

 

If it's any consolation, it looks as though El Nino is starting up again which means the west coast may be in for some relief from the drought over the next year or two. Then again, I don't know if you're watching Years of Living Dangerously - the Showtime series about global warming - but there was one segment with Arnold Schwarzenegger spending time with a firefighting crew in California, and he said that these days there isn't a fire season any more, it's happening year-round.

 

http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/story/fire-line/

 

Really sad, however you look at it, but this is one of the expected effects of global warming.

Edited by Melody
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My husband was saying that it's unseasonably hot in northern California at the moment so I hope they don't start getting fires there. That huge fire in the East Bay hills in 1991 happened while we were living just across the bay and I still remember the black sky in the middle of the afternoon. Really awful.

 

If it's any consolation, it looks as though El Nino is starting up again which means the west coast may be in for some relief from the drought over the next year or two. Then again, I don't know if you're watching Years of Living Dangerously - the Showtime series about global warming - but there was one segment with Arnold Schwarzenegger spending time with a firefighting crew in California, and he said that these days there isn't a fire season any more, it's happening year-round.

 

http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/story/fire-line/

 

Really sad, however you look at it, but this is one of the expected effects of global warming.

 

 

There are, of course, many reasons for fires in California.  One of them has been years of purposeful fire suppression so that the brush built up instead of being allowed to occasionally burn as nature intended.  Many plants are dependent upon fire for their seeds to germinate and for more access to the sun when the bigger plants have burned away.  We thought Smokey the Bear was a hero.

 

As for Southern California, it has always been a semi-dessert and human habitation was never meant to be anywhere near the density it is now.  The original inhabitants were itinerant - moving between the coast/beach in the winter to the inland mountains in the summer.  In those places which have not been landscaped by human hands, one can see just how much of a semi-desert it is.  

 

The natural ecosystem, especially water, has been altered to serve a huge number of people for which it was never meant to serve.  People also bring with them the hazards of modern life: gas, electricity, camp fires, careless cigarette disposal, arson, power lines, construction tools, etc.  And, a great many fires are started by natural dry lightning.

 

As for weather change, I would agree that in the last 50 yrs that I have lived here (coming from Philadelphia) it does seem to rain less.  But climate has always changed and a view of 50 yrs. is a very small window through which to look.  

 

On the other hand, when it does rain a lot then the brush grows larger and more densely and thus supplies more tinder and that is a huge contributor.  So more rain is not the answer and drought is not the cause.

 

In the past when climate has changed brown bears moved north and became white bears, red fox became arctic fox.  When the ocean rises, people built inland and when oceans receded people built on newly exposed land.  Everything is always in flux - I don't expect it to stay the same. At one time there was farming in Iceland, then it got too cold to farm.  Life is effected and changes in either case.  

 

We know that in the past the Earth was very warm, producing the fuels we use today and that epoch of warmth had nothing to do with human beings.  The Earth has gone through ice ages and that had nothing to do with human beings.

 

I remember a couple of decades ago, we were told the earth was in a  "little ice age."   I don't think the human view is large enough to know truly what the past or future of the planet is - or why.  We are smaller than we think.

 

This is not an argument for harmful use of our planet - it is an argument for good and careful use.  And part of that argument is to remember how very little we know and to presume we do know is the innate arrogance of our species.

 

Swan Princess:  Thank you for your concern.  We are safe - I live in the midst of the city rather than on its fringes.  But I do have many friends who are affected.  So far - thank heavens - there have been no casualties.  But homes are burning, thousands are evacuated, all schools are closed, graduations postponed.  Help is coming in from many sources.    

 

  

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I do hope your evacuated Facebook friend won't lose her house. :(

 

Thank you, Fiz.  It is a lovely home.  I have known her since we were in ballet class together in the 1970's.  She also taught and her daughter is a dancer, too.

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There are, of course, many reasons for the drought and the heat, and I agree that heavy rain in the west coast climate is a double-edged sword for many reasons (I remember the time during the 1982 El Nino when Highway 1 fell into the sea at Devil's Slide because of landslides after an unusually wet season). But a prolonged drought is always a worry for fire because more than the usual amount of vegetation is dead and ready to burn than would be the case after normal winter rainfall. There didn't used to be these fires in winter out there the way there is now. We'll just have to hope for a moderate El Nino rather than a strong one this year, because deluges after fires are a recipe for landslides, especially in seismically active areas, but I'm told things are shaping up for what looks like a pretty strong El Nino, so we'll have to see.

 

Part of the problem is that people have been migrating up to areas that used not to be developed, because they want to get away from the cities and live closer to nature (and find something more affordable, at least in northern California), and nature has the unfortunate tendency to bite back sometimes. Those semi-rural communities are always most in danger of being damaged by fire, and that's just going to get worse as more building goes on.

 

As for "it was warm in the past and nothing to do with human beings," there's no explanation for the pattern and extent of the current warming that doesn't include the greenhouse effect, and I think we're all aware of how the greenhouse gases are getting into the atmosphere these days. It's way past time to be denying that global warming is a serious problem, the Daily Mail (and equivalent American media outlets) notwithstanding. Looking at the fires on the west coast and the effects of Hurricane Sandy, and hearing some of the very people affected by them denying that global warming is even happening, is so very, very frustrating for scientists who are familiar with the data.

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I think there have always been very powerful hurricanes in the vicinity of the Caribbean - they are often mentioned in the logs of ships from Spain, France, England, Portugal, etc. from the earliest exploration of the area.  

 

The climate of the earth changes and there have always been events that have affected it such as volcanoes.  Science is never "settled" and it is not by concensus.  There was a time when physicists were convinced that space and time were immutable - until an obscure young man sitting in a Swiss patent office wrote a paper on relativity.  And some day he, too, may be proven wrong.

 

I think  our view and knowledge as human beings is too small and too short to make definitive statements of fact.  That's my view.  But I have no problem with anyone else seeing it differently nor does their view on this cause me to think any the less of them.  I don't assume they are less intelligent or thoughtful.  Nor do they frustrate me.

Edited by Anjuli_Bai
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Of course there have been powerful hurricanes in the Atlantic for many years. The problem, for people living along the coast, is that the damage done by a given hurricane is worse when sea level is higher, because you're starting from a higher baseline. Areas will flood that wouldn't have flooded a decade or two earlier. Equally, in the west, when droughts go on for longer and the baseline temperature is higher, that tends to make for worse fires. Then the soot from the fires gets into the atmosphere and some of it travels toward the polar regions, where it's darkening the snow, reducing the albedo, helping to encourage snow melt, and contributing to sea level rise. Which then helps make the effects of hurricanes worse. Just one of the feedback loops that's making things so worrying.

 

I think it's a simplistic if comforting view to say that we can't be definitive about science because things change. People who claim to believe that will still entrust their lives to devices based on scientific discoveries. I think Richard Dawkins, the ever-eloquent populariser of science, said it very well when he said “Show me a cultural relativist at 30,000 feet and I'll show you a hypocrite ... If you are flying to an international congress of anthropologists or literary critics, the reason you will probably get there - the reason you don't plummet into a ploughed field - is that a lot of Western scientifically trained engineers have got their sums right.” You can quibble all you like about how unsettled things have become because of the discovery of relativity or horizontal gene transfer, but it remains a fact that if something is increasing, it's increasing. At some level it isn't realistic to ignore confirmed measurements (which in science is what we mean when we refer to facts) by saying that at the far extent of space-time, things behave a differently. That isn't where we live. We live in the real world where surfaces appear solid even though at the quantum level they aren't, and where increasing temperatures are actually increasing.

 

In the meantime, global warming - like evolution - is an accepted state of affairs scientifically. At this point - again scientifically and again regarding both global warming and evolution - the arguments among the practitioners are about the details. The "controversy" in both cases is ideological - political and economic in one case and religious in the other - and that isn't an appropriate topic for this forum (fortunately, because I get enough of it elsewhere).

 

And as for the fires, which really do look awful, I hope they get some relief soon, but this is the front end of the dry season so it might be a rough year. I noticed while we were eating out today that in the TV over the bar in the restaurant, CNN was covering the fires for practically the whole time we were there, and at one point the headline was saying something about a fairly large number of fires burning out of control. That really doesn't sound good.

 

In the meantime we're expecting a major rainstorm tomorrow; several inches are supposed to fall in the Appalachians but we're under all sorts of watches and warnings here. At least the system is fairly localised to the mid-Atlantic so Florida won't get another hammering with any luck. Couple of weeks ago they got between 10 and 24 inches of rain in the southeast in a 24-hour period, and they're still recovering.

Edited by Melody
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Well, it doesn't bother me to be thought of as simplistic, or a cultural relativist, or a hypocrit, or unresalistic, - there I am - as good a description of me as another.  

 

Stupid, silly, ignorant old woman, that I am.  

 

Meanwhile - over 150,000 people have been evacuated.  

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I'm not sure what hell looks like - but maybe I'll find out.

 

I do know what heaven looks like - we discussed that in another thread.

 

I have two friends who have been evacuated.  One just told me they hope to return home tomorrow.  

 

Many years ago there was a fire which turned the day so dark that the street lights came on.  My cat was really confused.  

 

In the midst of this - it has been heartwarming to see the overwhelming support from other areas - there are firefighters and other specially trained people from many other states.  And the thousands of people who are voluntarily helping - from free food for the hundreds of fire fighters, to dropping off at strategic points  cases of bottled water to offers from commercial storage businesses offering free storage to people needing to store their possessions to people opening up their facilities to house animals and strangers..

 

It restores one's hope in our fellow human beings..

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[quote name="Anjuli_Bai" post="92642"

 

Stupid, silly, ignorant old woman, that I am.  

 

 

Can we replace these words with intelligent,inspirational,knowledgeable ever young woman.

Please!

 

And I hope the fires are under control soon.

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Can we replace these words with intelligent,inspirational,knowledgeable ever young woman.

Please!

 

And I hope the fires are under control soon.

 

Well, what do I say? - except - thank you.  As for young - maybe I should begin counting birthdays backward!

 

The temperature is forecast to be trending cooler starting today.   Arson is highly suspected in 8 of the 9 fires - investigations are on full tilt.  There are some really sick people out there.  But, they are still outnumbered by the good people.

 

As for the fires - several are still burning and still a major threat to people and homes.

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the situation with those fires is indeed horrific and I hope they are under control soon with no loss of life.  I agree with you totally Anjuli about the positivity of human nature that these disasters reveal.  Our village flooded badly in 2007 with over a third of the village having 10ft of water in their homes but the generosity of strangers and how the community pulled together was incredible.  Not so the 'disaster tourists' who came to take photos of peoples ruined homes.

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the situation with those fires is indeed horrific and I hope they are under control soon with no loss of life.  I agree with you totally Anjuli about the positivity of human nature that these disasters reveal.  Our village flooded badly in 2007 with over a third of the village having 10ft of water in their homes but the generosity of strangers and how the community pulled together was incredible.  Not so the 'disaster tourists' who came to take photos of peoples ruined homes.

 

It's amazing -on both ends of the spectrum - isn't it?  We are a creature with the power of making choices and so I guess that's why we get such a broad spectrum.  When I hear of instances of a person using his/her hands for horricif harm, I try to remember that someone else uses the same mechanism - the human hand - to play a violin, feed an infant or invent something wonderful.  

 

I guess that what makes one person choose one path while the next person chooses a totally different path is something we will never understand.  The one constant in the world is the inconstancy of ourselves.

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Update:  Lovely cool weather is back.

 

So far, three people have been arrested for arson.

 

One of the  fires was started by a spark from a malfunctioning piece of construction equipment.

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