Climate always changes a friend continues to tell me. He truly believes humans are not the major cause of the conditions that are so drastically impacting our lives, and we individually cannot do anything about it. How can anyone really hold on to these beliefs after last year?
The Dixie Fire taught us personally just how destructive the weather has become. My community of Indian Falls lost 22 of the 30 homes. My neighbors, my friends, my community—all gone in a few hours. We together had begun to reduce the fire danger around us. We were learning how to be a Firewise Community. We were holding meetings, clearing trees and debris away from our homes, trying to become fire resistant. But the forest around us had already dried out. The conditions were waiting.
Our very personal story of destruction has repeated all over the world all during the year with only a slight change of details. Fires, tornadoes, and floods create devastation.
In the last week of December in Boulder County, Colorado, the Marshall Fire decimated at least 500 homes in an evening. It was like reading about our Indian Falls, our Greenville, our Canyon Dam. High winds caused a power line to fall into trees that were too dry from the continued change in weather. Usually, Boulder at 5000 plus feet would have had snow on the ground most of December. Three months after the Dixie, a fire survivor tweeted above a picture of a burned house, “Our home is gone. Our neighborhood is burned to the ground.”
After Dixie, many of my friends were and are angry, so angry at PGE, blaming and wanting to take revenge on them. Was PGE the cause of the pine, fir and ponderosa trees waiting to explode in flames when fire came at them? I think not.
Certainly, PGE is part of why our communities have been ravaged. Power companies have used the cheapest methods to provide power for customers. Certainly, the Forest Service did seek to protect forest lands in a misguided way. However, we inhabitants were contributors to the cause, too. We have enjoyed an easier life with fossil-fueled transportation and energy sources–not living thoughtfully to help our earth remain in balance.
Our horrific losses were not just from the avariciousness and refusal to provide safe power sources by power companies. It was caused by us not willing to do our part. We are ultimately the root cause of the extreme drought that caused pines, furs, cedars to be bone dry and explode, burning as high as twice the size of the 150-foot Ponderosas.
Now, we must personally find ways to reduce our climate-changing footprint. We must find which works for us personally and do them. As we learn how to make a difference, it gets easier. And we need to insist that our politicians support policies to guide consumers and businesses. In this new year, vow with me to undertake that hard work. Our government must change. WE must be the change.