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Sowing the Wind and Reaping the Whirlwind: California and its Epic Wildfires

Photo credit: Patrick Luscri

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Like the 2018 Camp Fire, California’s Dixie Fire is epic. It has burned more than 220,000 acres and at least 40 structures. It’s the largest conflagration since the Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise. Sadly, California wildfires are becoming as common as Florida hurricanes. Why is this happening and who’s to blame? In a word, California.

By mismanaging its forests and water sources and enabling a power provider to place profits over people, the Golden State has sown the wind and is reaping the whirlwind.

Why is every California fire season scarier and more destructive than the last? The reasons can be boiled down to these:

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  1. Decades of forest mismanagement caused by environmentalists shaping policy
  2. Co-opted Northern California watersheds and water supply diversion
  3. Hotter temperatures and historic drought conditions caused by climate change
  4. Failing PG&E infrastructure
Forest mismanagement

We live five miles from the southeastern edge of the Dixie Fire. Our little mountain town of Quincy is under an evacuation warning. Many of our fellow residents live in areas of mandatory evacuation and some have lost their homes. Local firefighters and forest experts have known for years this was inevitable.

It’s common sense, really. When forest undergrowth and dead limbs and logs are allowed to pile up between trees, you may as well stack logs at their bases and light a match. Wise forest managers remove forest floor fuels and keep forests from growing dangerously dense.

Foolish forest managers allow undergrowth to flourish in order to “protect” ecological environments of certain species at the expense of overall forest ecology. This hands-off approach is pushed in Sacramento by those who think we’re only one species sharing our environment rather than caretakers of our environment.

Wise gardeners prevent weeds from diverting moisture from produce plants by removing them. This ensures a healthy garden. Why wouldn’t smart forest management include removal of undergrowth and dead or dying trees?

Water diversion

A few years ago, state biologists “gill-netted” vast quantities of fish in our local Silver Lake in order to prevent them from feeding on a certain frog. This decimated the fish population in favor of the frog population. How is this an ecological balance?

Similarly, allowing natural water sources to feed rivers and streams provides better hydration for trees—and raises critical moisture levels for forests. Diverting water from Northern California sources when levels are low exacerbates the deadly dryness of moisture-starved Sierra forests. Shouldn’t there be a better balance based on water levels?

As climate change continues to affect moisture and heat, smart and balanced water management becomes more critical. Yet California continues to base policy decisions reactively rather than proactively. If Northern California watershed areas burn for lack of moisture, poor water management will be partially to blame.

So will California’s reliance on hydroelectric power over traditional (and more effective) fossil-fuel plants. The state gets nearly 2/3 of its power from non-fossil fuel production, which is why it has to buy electricity from states like Oregon, Arizona and others.

Failing PG&E

Failed PG&E power lines are responsible for devastating California wildfires for the last five fire seasons. According to PG&E’s initial report the day the Dixie Fire started, an employee responding to an outage noticed a blown fuse at Cresta Dam in a heavily forested area of Butte County around the Feather River Canyon. He found two blown fuses and a tree leaning on a power conductor. He also found a fire on the ground near the base of the tree.

When the 2018 Camp Fire erupted, a PG&E employee noticed flames caused by a faulty transmission line in Feather River Canyon. Many of these lines are supported by electrical towers from the early 1900s. PG&E customers pay modern rates for modern electricity delivered via century-old towers.

In fairness, PG&E is finally taking steps to modernize its infrastructure with underground line burial and other measures. Sadly, these measures are long overdue and are too little too late for victims of the Camp Fire and now for those dealing with the Dixie Fire. Worse, PG&E seems to be continuing their foot-dragging regarding reporting system failures when they point to a wildfire start.

Closed market

According to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), PG&E ignored regulations that require it to report wildfire-related infrastructure failures within two hours of the event. PG&E took five days to report the Dixie Fire-related failure to CPUC. As a state agency, CPUC answers to Governor Gavin Newsom and Sacramento politicians. PG&E is supposed to answer to CPUC, yet is still failing to follow the rules.

Not only is there a lack of meaningful accountability, the relationship between California and PG&E is dysfunctional. The average citizen wonders why Sacramento continues enabling a repeat offender of a power company. Another question is why California refuses to open up its utility market to competitors in order to force PG&E to modernize its infrastructure.

Something has to change or California will continue to burn every fire season. Close to home, people in our community love living in Northern California, but the Golden State will lose even more citizens if residents have to flee the flames every summer.

 

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Patrick is a trained journalist and writer with degrees in English and journalism. He served six years in the Navy where his life was changed forever by the Lord Jesus Christ. He lives in the Sierra Nevada of Northern California with his wife, dog and two cats. He enjoys hiking and cycling, taking pictures and blogging at https://luscri.com/



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Elections

Joe Biden Bingo

Here is a tool which could help you to stay tuned on broadcasts featuring our acting president

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Even if you caught only snippets of Joe Biden’s recent press conference, you know that his mental decline continues unabated. It’s unlikely that even a handful of Americans watched the event in its entirety. Who would want to waste their time?

What’s occurring is a national travesty, and it is increasingly evident to larger portions of our population that Joe Biden is being abused as an elder, as he abuses others.

Throughout his 365 days in office, Biden has struggled to pronounce a word and then offers a non-sequitur to what he was originally saying. With regularity he tells stories that are simply false. He refers to his vice president as president. He insults vast segments of the population. He stumbles and stammers repeatedly. He checks his watch, fumbles with his mask, and snaps at people when he doesn’t like a question. And those are the least of his faux pas with audiences.

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If you’re having trouble listening to Joe for more than a minute, the tool above might work for you. On the Facebook site, “Best of the Web,” I saw this Biden bingo card. It could help you to stay the course when tuned into other broadcasts featuring our acting president.

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Covid

China; Hidden Dragon, or Paper Tiger

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With all the ongoing issues in America today it might seem superfluous to worry about China. Between crime in the streets, the latest Covid variant, lock downs, forced vaccinations and corrupt at every level of government it might seem we have enough to worry about. But, what if it’s all related and part of a plan? What if we have always been at war with Eurasia but were never informed?

First let’s take a look at militarily how the opponents stack up.  On paper and in total dollars the USA outspends China by more than double. ($738 Billion Vs $252 billion). China has more than five times the number of citizens available for military service. Surprisingly at this time China and the USA are about equal in terms of ground forces equipment. (IE: Tanks, armored fighting vehicles, rockets)  It would appear that our air forces are about equal in numbers but we have double the number of helicopters and China has twice as many fighter aircraft as we do.  In sheer numbers China has the USA out classed in the naval department. America has more aircraft carriers by a factor of 5, but China holds the lead in fast attack frigates, corvettes and a slight lead in submarines.

As for nuclear weapons the USA has a total of 6,500 warheads but only 1,600 are currently deployed. China is a little harder to asses since they are not part of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and do not reveal the total numbers of weapons they have. (For reference Russia has 6,490 warheads down from 40,000 during the height of the cold war. Currently has 1,600 deployed)

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On paper it would seem the two super powers are evenly matched. But let’s not make the mistake most military generals do by fighting the last war. So much of their energy is studying the last conflict, the latest’s one always surprises them. (see Blitzkrieg).  Some of the more forward thinking realize the next war will be economic. Possibly combined with a cyber-attack. Today we are already seeing the probes of our technology driven economy. Most of these come from China. For a listing of these one only needs to go to the Center for Strategic International Studies. (CSIS).

In planning for a global conflict to come it seems the CCP is relying upon the oriental virtues of planning and patience, while the western world is into instant gratification. While the USA exports the virtues of multiculturalism and LGBTQ rights around the world the CCP is investing in roads, bridges, dams, ports and  infrastructure. By loaning money to developing nations at exorbitant rates and requiring Chinese labor and materials they are copying the colonial model sans the hospitals and schools.

Since 2013 China has been following a five year plan (China loves those five year plans) called the Belt and Road initiative. Interestingly announced during a visit to Kazakhstan. The goal is to build a Chinese centered international order. It is also known as the Silk Road Economic Belt, or the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The names are a nod to the historic trade routes to and from the western world to China, popularized by the travels of Marc Polo.  In 2019 a second Belt to road five year plan was instituted to quell the negative press and concentrate on a more “green and sustainable” era. As of 2020 140 of 193 countries and 32 international agencies have signed up.

For some of these countries the BRI turns into a debt trap. When they can’t pay up they are forced to turn over the very projects the Chinese financed. Uganda has turned over its international airport. Sri Lanka has handed over a large port. Djibouti is about to hand over another, adjacent to our largest port in Africa. Zambia is negotiating the turnover of their largest coper mine to help restructure their debt. In spite of all this other countries in South America are signing on to the BRI. Cuba has found another sugar daddy in the CCP’s initiative. Something to keep in mind all these project must follow the China’s National Defense law that mandates civilian infrastructure projects closely related to national defense shall meet national defense requirements and functions and must be surrendered for military use when needed.

North America is not immune to the prospect of “easy” money granted by the CCP. Canada has not signed on to the BRI but has welcomed Chinese investment on several fronts. Mostly in British Columbia and Bunavat. In the United States the CCP hasn’t been lending money but investing. Investing in politicians, Hollywood, Newspapers, News organizations and Colleges. They own internet companies like Tic-Tok, Riot Games, and We Chat. Brick and mortar companies like Smithfield, the Waldorf Astoria and Continental Aerospace Technologies. So much money is invested in American companies that you rarely see any criticism of the Communist countries policies. Global warming, China gets a pass, child labor laws, China need not apologize, slave labor, well what slave labor, and human rights abuses don’t see any there.

So what does it all mean to America and its citizens? As we move closer to China’s social credit system who will stand up and denounce it? The same politicians that accepted enough money to keep them in office? The news organizations that rely on CCP money to keep them afloat? Just look at how many objected to Covid being referred to as the China flu. Speaking of the China flu, what if it was released by China in an effort to destroy the economies of most nations and allow them to take control of strategic ports and airports around the world. Who would stand up if China decides that Taiwan could no longer be tolerated and will be annexed?

It would seem China is a paper Tiger. A paper tiger made of Yen. They have bought and paid for large sections of the United State economy. You could say the same for Europe.  China has ensured that every third world country that is rich in the resources owes a substantial portion of their gross domestic production to the CCP. You don’t need to be a dragon when you own all the paper.

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu

“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” – Sun Tzu

 

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