By B.N. Frank
The situation in California is beyond tragic. As wildfires continue to rage, smoke has made the air unbreathable throughout the state. Downed power lines and cell towers are making it difficult if not impossible for residents to communicate and also receive evacuation alerts.
Some blame the fires on climate change. Other experts insist that addressing different environmental factors could quickly provide relief.
From Full Measure:
This year, California’s wildfires are being called the worst in state’s history. The governor and others claim climate change is the chief culprit. But Lisa Fletcher has been tracking the golden state’s fires for several years and finds the real problem might be something else.
Lisa Fletcher: There is no debate that this California fire season is historic in devastation, in size and in costs.
Over 3-million acres burned by the end of September, and that’s with the majority of the fires still burning out of control.
The fires have been frightening in their intensity. They have created unearthly scenes but California has had a fire problem for decades. In the past 30 years, nearly 20-million acres have been destroyed by wildfires.
In 2016 we went to Big Sur, site of the most expensive California wildfire to date.
Then we found one of the problems wasn’t global but very small, a bark beetle that was turning forests into dead zones.
Mike Lindberry: They’re estimating 60-million trees are dead standing right now all over the state.
Lisa: And what is the translation for a firefighter?
Lindberry: The translation for a firefighter is one, faster moving more deadly fires and the fact even while they’re fighting these fires there’s the danger of the trees dropping on them at any point.
Lisa: And you already had one firefighter killed with a tree dropping on them.
Lindberry: There was a firefighter killed last week from a tree dropping on him, that’s correct.
Lisa: Forest fires produce a double jeopardy, after crews extinguish the flames the barren landscape creates a threat for mudslides and poisoning local water.
Robert Bonnie: We don’t have the resources we need to invest in reforestation and we have a substantial backlog.