The Rim Fire reminds Californians we need to plan for the future

The Rim Fire, one of the worst in California’s history, is threatening (as of this writing) the water and power supplies to San Francisco, which relies heavily on mountain snowmelt around Hetch Hetchy Valley.

This summer, we find a changing climate with droughts that last longer and ever-higher temperatures. There’s no doubt that the prolonged dry conditions have had profound effects on the frequency and severity of wildfires, including the Rim Fire.

But if the water and power supply of a major American city can be at risk, shouldn’t we take that as a clue that it’s time to make contingency plans to safeguard the water and power supplies for the entire state?

The current situation is a reminder that our place on this planet is in jeopardy. It’s a call, not only to support the efforts of our firefighters, but also to reduce our impact on the planet at large, and to plan carefully for a future when the snowmelt and rainfall will be less predictable, and our resources will have to go further.

As we move forward with discussions about the proposed Delta tunnels, we need to bear in mind that water is not an infinite resource. If the Rim Fire teaches us anything, it should remind us that none of our resources can be taken for granted. All must be protected and all are fragile.