We are fortunate to have Michael Wara as our guest in this episode—a bona fide expert on the subject who is a member of the state-appointed wildfire commission in California—to help us think through this complex web of issues and understand how to start plotting a new path into the future.
Another autumn, more fires, more refugees and incinerated homes. For California, flames have become the colors of fall.
Free-burning fire is the proximate provocation for the havoc, since its ember storms are engulfing landscapes. But in the hands of humans, combustion is also the deeper cause. Modern societies are burning lithic landscapes – once-living biomass now fossilized into coal, gas and oil – which is aggravating the burning of living landscapes.
Carol’s experience a year on from the Paradise fires speaks to the challenges of rebuilding and recovering in a time of climate change. It also attests to the profound difference between house and home. Rebuilding a house is hard enough – especially if you aren’t wealthy or aren’t insured – but it is far more challenging to rebuild a sense of home, given how homes are tied to memories, to a community, to a time and place.
California is the fifth-largest economy in the world and likes to shout about its genius at innovation, but it is a victim of its lack of energy innovation. It’s a climate disaster zone, with the new reality of hotter, dryer conditions made far worse by the outdated power grid and corrupt private corporation in charge of distributing gas and electricity.