Fire Season

The sky above the port was the color of... the color grading when the cinematographer wants to say that now you're in a Shithole Country instead of The Land of The Free.

Remember when SF didn't have "fire season" and you didn't know what "N95" meant? Yeah, that was 2017.

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14 Responses:

  1. jwz says:


    It's raining ash in California, forcing us to wear a different kind of mask than we wear for the pandemic when we go buy the generator we need for either rolling blackouts or preemptive outages so we can work from home if we haven't been evacuated or our house hasn't burned down

    • pete23 says:

      the apocalypses are here, just not evenly distributed

    • thielges says:

      I took a look at the white powder coating everything and noticed a lot of little tree parts had gently fallen to the ground, intact in the form of ash. Some parts were clearly the needles of Sequoia sempervirens. Makes my inner Lorax sad.

    • Krunch says:

      In some places it rains ash. In others it rains chocolate.

    • Lloyd says:

      Different masks for pandemics and bushfires? Really?

      • jwz says:

        Tight-fitting N95 with a one-way output valve are best for protecting the wearer from fire-related particulates, but are bad for COVID-19 as that valve weaponizes your spittle against others.

        • Thomas Lord says:

          Obsessive compulsive in me wants to add to that: You can, usefully, layer a covid-type mask over a valved n95 mask thereby successfully: (1) doing right by others and yourself, probably; (2) satisfying all the not-really-enforced-but-important public health orders and advice; (3) cranking up your discomfort and general sense of dystopic surreality and epistemological disorientation. It's a win-win-win situation.

          • Elusis says:

            I got a pack of really cheap felt masks at Michael's Crafts the first week the order went into effect, not sure how quickly I'd be able to whip some up myself. I wound up giving them to friends with N-95s to do exactly this.

        • Lloyd says:

          well, yes. but you evacuate to sea in the mask you have, not the mask you want.

  2. Kyzer says:

    Don't go full 'straya:

  3. bobo the hobo says:

    "Fire season" may itself be a new term (relatively) but august fires along the coast have been a feature of the landscape since pre-human, not just pre-euro-people, times. They follow the june fires in the mountains and precede the october fires in the south. And of course there was the Tunnel Fire in '91 that spent nearly 30 years at the top of the most-destructive and most-deadly lists.

    One notable atmospheric change is the ban on agricultural burning in the central valley, which until the '90s left most of the state enveloped in smoke for a long fraction of the summer even when there weren't wildfires.

    Not saying things aren't bad. But if the focus is on weather rather than climate, then people tend to miss the serious things. Like the way there essentially were no fires at all last year. Which was also an effect of climate change and because the local ecosystem has evolved to require fire, was also a tragedy. But hard to notice because nobody takes apocalyptic night photos of not-a-fire.

    • Dude says:

      Did you say there were "no fires last year"? By "last year", you don't mean 2019, do you?

      Because a lot of us remember that year very, very, very differently.

      • bobo the hobo says:

        I didn't say that and I invite you to scroll up to the word "essentially" and contemplate its meaning. Also, while Siberia (and Australia and Brazil) also burn regularly, we're talking about California here. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

        What happened last year, despite your memory, is that somewhere between 10 and 15% of the normal California historic yearly area burned. This is an order of magnitude difference and a couple of sigmas off of center. This is also why we rely on historical data, rather than anecdotes and memory.

        Still, this illustrates my point pretty clearly: by focusing on the apocalyptic (and inventing it in false memory when necessary) the mundane gnawing away at our world goes unnoticed. The California drought got an insane amount of attention three years ago. "Almonds use a gallon of water EACH!" And then it rained and the twitters moved on to the next doom thing. Now there's essentially silence in that department even though the going-on-thirty-year aridification of the southwest grinds on.

        • Dude says:

          I really couldn't give less of a shit what Twitter says; that's why I haven't been on it since 2016.

          And if you want to talk history, the evidence is pretty clear: California fires have grown increasingly more destructive and the 2019 fire season was the longest 'season' yet.

          Splitting hairs by looking at bulk numbers (so as to diminish to the danger posed) ignores the fact that - as the Guardian article mentions and as the current firefight shows - the current infrastructure is woefully unprepared for new weather resulting from climate change.

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