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California Wildfires—A Burning Example of Why We Need to Go Beyond Industrialization
Late Thursday afternoon Larry and I decided to drive up the Sonoma County coast from Bodega Bay to Timber Cove to have dinner.
As we drove we noticed something in the air over the ocean. Was it mist? Was it fog?
I started to have difficulty breathing and felt nauseous. Granted we were on a winding road, but I’ve been on this road my whole life and have never been carsick.
By the time we reached Timber Cove, it was almost sunset. They wouldn’t seat us outdoors “because of the fire.” Ah, yes. Now this all made sense.
The fire was just over the hills and a little north, in Geyserville. The smoke and ash was pouring over the hills to the coast and spreading out over the ocean. The horizon was almost black. We could actually watch the sun sink down to the horizon and disappear.
The following morning we learned that the fire had already burned about 20,000 acres and was only 5% contained. Today parts of Healdsburg and Windsor are being advised to be ready to evacuate.
Geyserville is about thirty miles north of my location. Healdsburg and Windsor are closer. The fire is creeping in my direction.
The entire San Francisco Bay area is disrupted because of this fire. The entire area has “unhealthy” air quality. About a million people are without power for several days and I’m sure millions of dollars have been spent on emergency supplies and evacuations.
What started this fire?
We have this big program going on this summer for our local utility PG&E to be super-careful about their equipment, especially on days at this time of year when there are high winds and dry grass on the hills. They are ordering power outages for millions of households to prevent fires. Yet, PGE didn’t turn off one of their high-voltage wires. It broke and started this fire.
From our viewpoint, the problem here is the centralization of industrialization vs the localization of life.
The industrial model wants to centralize everything, which put power and control in the hand of a few and everyone else has to pay to get the resources. Localization produces the product or service by many small providers.
Instead of producing something at a central location and then shipping it long distances, the product or service is produced and sold close to home.
In this case, it was a high-voltage power cable that started the fire. If we had local power, there wouldn’t be a high voltage power cable in the first place.
This i the third year in a row we are having devastating fires here in California. I was born and raised here and we never had these kind of fires my whole life until recently.
I’m thinking that if all the money spent on loss from these fires were spent on re-outfitting our power structure to be local, it would pay for all the equipment and retrofitting needed, and there would be money left over.
We the citizens of California need to be looking at how to do this collectively. In the mean time, each one of us can shift to individual power. Larry and I have already made that decision and have taken the first step.
But we all need to be thinking differently to make wise decisions that benefit our communities-at-large, protect our property, and keep our funds available for improvements rather than restoration and repair.