Tag Archives: california wildfires

Living in a constant state of disaster is unhealthy for children and other living things

30 Aug

Gee, doesn’t this wildfire scenario put COnVID in it’s proper perspective? I mean, I don’t know one person who can prove to me they had COVID (in fact, I only know one person who has claimed to have it), but I know people all around me right now are getting sick from breathing the cancer-laden smoke from these human-made and human-manipulated fires.

From the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/wildfires/smoke.html

Wildfire smoke is a mix of gases and fine particles from burning vegetation, building materials, and other materials. Wildfire smoke can make anyone sick. Even someone who is healthy can get sick if there is enough smoke in the air. Breathing in smoke can have immediate health effects, including:

  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing normally
  • Stinging eyes
  • A scratchy throat
  • Runny nose
  • Irritated sinuses
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • An asthma attack
  • Tiredness
  • Fast heartbeat

Let me add, stomach ache. The last few nights I think I’ve been swallowing air because my sinuses are so glued shut I can’t get it any other way. I wake up at 3 am with a horrible stomach ache, walk around belching and blowing my nose for 15 minutes. I’ll also add dehydration – I’m waking up several times a night, thirsty as hell, even though I’ve been drinking more water than ever. My mouth is sore, my tongue is dry, and my voice has been reduced to a croak.

So what’s the solution? “If you are told to stay indoors, stay indoors and keep your indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed unless it is very hot outside. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. Seek shelter elsewhere if you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed.”

This advice might be useful in a short-term emergency. We’ve been force-fed smoke and ash and other cancer-causing particulates for about 2 months now. Stay inside? How the fuck is a person supposed to make a living? And, according to the CDC, masks are suddenly worthless?

Do not rely on dust masks for protection. Paper “comfort” or “dust” masks commonly found at hardware stores trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from smoke. An “N95” mask, properly worn, will offer some protection. If you decide to keep a mask on hand, see the Respirator Fact Sheet provided by CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

But I’m supposed to believe that a mask will stop a virus? Wow, this just gets more ridiculous every minute.

After over a year of the COnVID shutdown, we are now forced indoors and isolated by wildfires left to burn half the state. We already know what happens – more depression/mental illness, more domestic violence, more suicide.

These wildfires, like the COVID shutdown, were human-made and human perpetuated. In both instances, the cure has been worse than the disease.

The view from the tinder box – Upper Bidwell Park just waiting for another dry lightening storm – where do you live?

6 Sep

Upper Bidwell Park along Hwy 32:  See the tiny pink tube – somebody was smoking something right on top of shoulder high dead grass surrounded by dead standing trees.

I sent the above picture to Mike Wolcott at the Enterprise Record. I told him it would be a good illustration for the letter I sent him almost a week ago about mismanagement and total neglect of Bidwell Park. He still hasn’t printed my letter – because he’s out of town, again. He  tried to tell me he spends most of his time at the ER but here’s the tell – when he’s gone, his staff print like 4 letters a day, leaving a big backlog, I’m guessing. Then when Wolcott comes back, there’s what I call a letters barf. Given the “out of the office” notice I got, I expect a letters barf on Tuesday or Wednesday of this next week.

In 2017 I sent a similar picture – of a cigarette that had engaged dry grass before, by some miracle, it just burned out – just days before the Stoney Fire mowed through the park, jumped Hwy 32 and threatened a home on the other side, leaving residents all along the canyon on pins and needles.

As they should be, really. Get ready for the next Big One folks, get your to-go bag ready and maybe buy yourself a “bug out” trailer to load your bigger junk. In fact, I’d load it in March, and leave it loaded until the first rains of Autumn, given the state’s neglect of public forests. It’s a regular tinder box out there. Just add an illegal camp fire, an off road vehicle, or, as we witnessed a few weeks ago driving into town, a dry lightening strike, and you have yourself a disaster.

Right now, we’re breathing what I would call “cancer air”.   After failing to thin and maintain healthy forests as in the past, Cal Fire has taken a “wait and see” posture.  Meaning, wait for a wildfire, and then, no matter the consequences for air quality, circle the wagons around any expensive houses and just let the damned thing burn itself out. That’s what’s  going on in the Mendocino fires, they’ve admitted it.

According to inciweb – The August Complex was initially 37 different fires on the Mendocino National Forest that started on August 17, 2020. Many have been contained or have merged. Currently, the complex is 221,284 acres and 18 percent contained. Actual acreage is subject to change as fire activity progresses throughout the day.

Merged? 18 percent contained?

This policy comes from the top – Gavin Newsom. While he blames Global Warming, he has cut the budget for Cal Fire and perpetuated a policy of no forest management. By forest management, I mean cleaning up tree trash, thinning of native species, and removal of non-native species, opening up the forest for the growth of healthy, mature native trees. Drive up Hwy 32 – what do you see beyond the burn scars? A forest crowded with tiny, brushy trees. Private parties have logged their lots but failed to remove tree trash, stumps and brush.

Now drive to Tahoe. See the big trees, the open space in the forest. That’s the result of yearly cleaning and maintenance. Clearing done in summer and burning done in Winter, as it should be.

We need a more consistent forest management policy in California. Years ago a policy change left forest lands the responsibility of counties and towns instead of Cal Fire. See how this has worked out (picture above). The city of Chico will never have the resources to properly manage Bidwell Park. It will continue to be an eyesore and a fire hazard as long as the city controls it. And Upper Bidwell Park is a liability to communities all the way up Hwy 32.

For now, I continue to send pics like this to the newspaper and the city. 

 

PG&E seeks to charge ratepayers for fire fees

28 Oct

From the San Jose Mercury News:

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/10/26/pge-pushes-for-ratepayers-to-pay-millions-in-california-wildfire-costs/

In a 30-minute meeting on Oct. 17, Meredith Allen, PG&E’s senior director of regulatory relations, told Travis Foss, an adviser to PUC Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen, that PG&E and other California utilities are in “an untenable situation,” according to a record of the meeting that PG&E sent to the PUC as required under state lobbying rules. PG&E should not have to pay “a disproportionate” share of the costs of wildfires because of the growing risk and a tough insurance market, Allen argued.

The utility companies want ratepayers to pay instead of their shareholders.

A share of PG&E stock is worth about $57 today, having reached a three year high of $70.63 a share just last month. Then the wildfires hit, and PG&E was found liable. 

http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/PG-E-cited-for-late-maintenance-work-more-often-12303697.php

California regulators auditing Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s work in the field cited the company for late repairs and maintenance jobs far more frequently than any other electric utility in the state, according to documents made public in the wake of this month’s deadly Wine Country fires.

This isn’t the first time PG&E has been found to be negligent of their infrastructure. Up in the hills that means dead trees standing right under and alongside power lines, here in Chico it also means un-maintained gas lines. 

http://www.krcrtv.com/news/pge-emergency-repairs-underway-for-gas-leak-in-chico-dam/11441480

“Emergency repairs” for a leak they’d known about for a year?  Read this recent article from CNBC –  look at all the fires that have been caused by PG&E negligence, and the bills PG&E has received.

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/13/pge-plunges-on-concern-its-power-lines-may-have-started-california-wildfires.html

Shareholders got nervous, causing the stock price to “plummet” to $57.  But, shares have risen steadily despite the “plummets”, worth $10 more than they were in 2013. Why are shareholders nervous? Because they’re afraid they will have to pay.

Of course, in the San Bruno deal shareholders were awarded $90 million? This article is confusing:

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/04/21/court-oks-90-million-pge-san-bruno-explosion-settlement/

Why do we allow utilities to be publicly traded for profit? That seems to be the whole problem, one court declaring PG&E “placed profits ahead of safety…” the San Bruno disaster having been caused by ” a combination of PG&E’s shoddy maintenance, flawed record-keeping and the PUC’s lazy oversight, according to an official investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.”

The utility companies should be run strictly for the benefit of the ratepayers. 

Recently I heard from a group in Silicon Valley that has “united in supporting non-partisan, bi-partisan legislative reforms in how consumer rates are set for investor-owned water utilities.”

They have recently put up a website:

https://www.waterratescoalition.com/

I’m glad to hear from these people, I’m glad somebody is still fighting these outrageous utility rate increases. I also find the Lucerne group is still having meetings.  Here’s their facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/LucerneFLOW/

As you can see, we in Chico are not getting as badly screwed as other towns, but my bills continue to inch up, even though I’ve drastically reduced my water usage. 

It’s time to get on board and fight.