‘Fiddles of denial’

The Carr Fire is devastating, but this is only the beginning if we don’t take action to curb climate change

The author lives in Paradise with his wife, owns a small business and is a member of the Chico chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

It’s Redding’s turn to burn, for its citizens to flee and, tragically, for some to die. Last year, fires swept through Sonoma, Napa and Santa Barbara counties, killing dozens. Chico’s turn will come, and Paradise will burn again. Portola, Quincy, Truckee—all the small, wonderful mountain communities are sitting ducks. Our national parks and forests will continue to be consumed at unprecedented rates. Wildland firefighters will die—more than 300 have since 2010. Homes by the hundreds and the thousands will be destroyed.


Partly because we live in a fire-prone region and have taken scant precautions to protect ourselves through such things as appropriate building codes. We’ve also worked to extinguish every fire as soon as possible—a laudable goal but one resulting in the buildup of heavy fuels. But that’s only part of the story.

The new part involves our climate, which is heating up rapidly. No one with an open mind denies this. Winters are shorter, droughts more severe, the vegetation far more ignitable. And temperatures soar. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts 2018 will join 2017, 2016 and 2015 as the hottest years on record. And if we do nothing to seriously limit greenhouse gases, this is but the beginning.

Analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that between 1986 and 2003, in the West wildfires burned more than six times more land and lasted five time longer than between 1970 and 1986. And UC Merced’s Sierra Nevada Research Institute predicts that over the next 20 years, western wildfires will be five to seven times larger than today. Redding may be the new normal, but only until things get worse.

We lost our home to the 2008 Humboldt Fire. The trauma these infernos cause is profound and lasting.

So I’m perplexed that so many of those who represent us at the local, state and congressional levels continue to ignore these risks by pretending climate change isn’t real or isn’t their responsibility. There are solutions, yet key politicians play their fiddles of denial while our communities burn? This is an election year. It’s time we hold their feet to the fire.