Monday, October 22, 2007

It's Gettin' Hot in Here (So Go Flee all ya Homes!)

San Diego, my erstwhile hometown, is again in flames. It was only a matter of time before Santa Ana winds, one of the worst droughts in recorded history, and the metastisization of suburbia (and now exurbia) would commingle into its present form. In my own capacity as a California State Parks biogeographer, the signs of devastation were clear in February: shit wad dryin' out 'fore it could come to seed. The rains weren't falling in the winter, and predictions for this year were for some of the fiercest Santa Anas on record.

While the flames in Malibu may pull the heartstrings of the celebrity mags and sites like, it is San Diego County that will likely face property damage of Katrina-like proportions.

The humanistic approach to a catastrophe such as this would include calls to distant friends and relatives in their time of need, donations to evacuee aid organizations, or even a heartfelt missive to the local paper. I do draw upon a well of sympathy for those in plight, including my own parents who may have to be evacuated from their quasi-coastal locale in a few short days, but within me also exists a fount; rage can only express my mood when noting that the urban-wildland interface has been increasingly crowded out by an array of manufactured homes (and people).

Wildfires are as essential to coastal chaparral ecologies as the spotty rain that peppers the earth in San Diego. It's the goddamned people who promote hotter, longer and more deadly fires. To wit: Too much human resource has attenuated the quality of natural resource. This a hypothetical scenario that tests H1A: Overpopulation is the death of us of all, and H1B: The impact of a segment of that overpopulated body, namely the industrialized world, China, and the Seychelles (OK, maybe not them) has compounded preexisting phenomena.

Yes, I am gloomy, and so should you.

Am I espousing a fringe environmental credenda? Should I not indulge in some schadenfreude in seeing horribly unsustainable McMansions built in sensitive canyon ecosystems at a rate Starbucks and WalMart would envy? Perhaps on both accounts.

But this series of fires is just the beginning. One could reductively assert that this is Mother Nature fighting back. However, if anything Mother Nature is colical, and the 100,000+ homes that may face engulfment are the result of a fitful immune system fighting back, not an apocalyptic war.

When considering donations in this time of need, think of where your money is better spent. For obvious reasons Planned Parenthood is as good an investment, if not better, than the Red Cross. We need more public pronouncements from Al Gore, not Dubya and the most current cast at FEMA.

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