Denial is remarkably powerful. It’s human nature to avoid truths we do not want to see, to seek information that confirms our preferred outlook and reject what does not.
It’s dawn in Paradise as I write, with ash filling the smoke-darkened air again, with our bags packed and the horse trailer hooked up in case we have to flee, at the close of another summer of shattered heat and fire records. Denial is why some can look at the years of horrendous wildfires and say, let’s rake the forests, or increase thinning, or loosen environmental laws related to logging. Let’s do anything to avoid the central truth that climate change is the key reason for our escalating losses.
Yes, our forests are overgrown, and we must aggressively thin that growth, bring low-intensity fire back to the land while we tighten development rules and building codes. But we’ll never catch up to the worsening conditions caused by ever-rising temperatures, and changing rainfall patterns if we do not deal with greenhouse gas emissions.
Political leaders, including Congressman Doug LaMalfa, who ignore climate change are stuck in a deadly denial. We can no longer afford their blinders.
We enable such politicians by not confronting them with the truth. When they tiptoe around the issue, even as whole communities are incinerated and tens of thousands are driven from their homes and tens of thousands traumatized, we must act. Elections are the democratic versions of interventions.