Episode 12: Fire Festival

In the twelfth episode of The Latest, we didn’t start the fires in California. Matt Ulrich of the Michelson Found Animals Registry (found.org) joins the program for this week’s O.J. Simpson Twitter Update.

The Latest with Greg Ott
The Latest with Greg Ott
Episode 12: Fire Festival


Those voices are speaking about wildfires ravaging California, turning a traditionally blue state a deep and persistent red.

Firefighters are working around the clock to contain the damage, with planes being deployed to the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to extinguish the flames with a little bit of water and a lot of plastic.

To date, thousands upon thousands of acres have been scorched to the ground, making celebrities and tech billionaires wonder if it’s worth heading to Black Rock Desert every August when their own personal Burning Man will arrive in their own backyard just two months later.

Hundreds of thousands of California residents have been told to evacuate due to the hurricane force winds causing the wildfire, to borrow a phrase, to spread like wildfire. 

To reduce the risk of igniting more blazes, utility companies such as Pacific Gas and Electric have cut power to millions of people, presumably by reminding the Golden State’s 39 million residents that they have the same number of senators as Wyoming.

The wildfire season is expected to last through December, which means it might be a good idea to get your Christmas tree right now, before it’s too late.

This is not to say that all wildfires are bad. On the contrary; I think it’s the best part of John Mayer’s 2013 album. Fire can play an important role in the natural ecosystem, rejuvenating soil, eliminating invasive species, and helping the LAPD figure out how to take down Chris Dorner once and for all. 

But year after year, higher temperatures and drier lands cause by climate change is making these fires more intense and difficult to control. Aspects of the wildfire are being called both “historic” and “the new normal,” presumably a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence that happens all the time.

To me, that’s the only reasonable way to think about climate change: the world is woefully, laughably unprepared for the long-term consequences of rising temperatures and sea levels that will take a city like Miami and destroy it. In fact, that’s the only positive side effect I can think of.

A few weeks ago at the United Nations, a teenage activist named Greta Thunberg pleaded world leaders to address the climate crisis with urgency, and was, of course, ridiculed by people like Mr. Trump, who I assume thought she was just playing hard to get. 

But long after he’s burning in hell, she’s still going to be burning on Earth, where it’s going to be increasingly difficult to do fun things like “grow food” or “go outside.” 

Because the can for addressing climate change has been kicked so far down the road, the next generation is the one that will be forced to extinguish the label that’s engulfed in flames.