California is on fire, no it’s not an expression to signify the coolness of a place which boasts Silicon Valley and Hollywood, California has succumbed yet again to the forest wildfires.
California has a lot to be proud about. California is home the third largest state in the United States and at some point, in time, everyone envisaged themselves being a movie star and living the life in Beverly Hills. However, Skid row, a neighbourhood unfortunately popularised due to its homelessness and the constant forest fires, have disparaged our dreams and shone light on the unfortunate truth of California.
Wildfires have unfortunately been evident in 2020, as earlier in January, the Australian bushfires destroying 1400 homes and ravaging 15 million acres of land. The California fires have already burnt 1 million acres of land, and are on path to ravage more as firefighters have been reported to make slow progress. The wildfires were started by an unprecedented 12,000 lightning strikes in 3 days. Such circumstances have caused California Governor Gavin Newsom to ask for federal aid to supplement recovery efforts in areas withered by the wildfires.
Yet, the thousands who have been displaced due to the recovery effort find no solace in the fact their homes are burned and habitats destroyed. Nearly 41,000 residents in Sonoma County were placed under evacuation warnings. Reports are also emerging from the states of Utah, Oregon and Montana, as some residents are red flag warnings. These warnings entail low humidity, warmer temperatures and higher crosswinds, illustrating how patterns of wildfires, might find way towards the aforementioned states.
Thus, such scenarios and events led to an impromptu focus on climate change. Climate change, however is an issue just as sporadic as gun reform when a mass shooting occurs. However, the tide is changing. Neglect of climate change issue by the Trump Administration has prompted citizens to engage in discussions about their environmental future. The topic of Wildfires, particularly has gained traction in California.
However, a solution to curb and prevent future wildfires, agreed by most Environmentalists, is a paradoxical one. Environmentalists suggests to return fire with fire. The “Fire way Forward” is a plan to prescribe pre-planned fires in order to stop the major ones. Similar to how vaccines (which contain weakened disease-causing micro-organisms) prepare the body to fight diseases, the pre-prescribed fires take out shrubs, branches, tinder etc. This ensures that any small fire doesn’t have a “ladder” to escalate and become a major wildfire.
Yet, for countless Californians such solutions don’t provide any respite, if not undertaken and as Californians see a story they have seen before, they hope the ending might just be different.