“Could Be The Worst Fire Season On Record”
Posted Tuesday, 23 January 2007, 2:43 pm
Every year. Every year. Come about April, my wife and I begin speculating about when the first utterance of the above sentence will occur on the local news. Without fail, every year, every local news station will air those words. If California had a light winter, with lower than average rain—then by May or so, the reports will be that there’s a ‘tinderbox’ of dry brush out there that could make this the worst fire season on record. If California had higher than normal rain, the reports will be that the "excess" rain has created a dense overgrowth of brush that’s going to become a ‘tinderbox’ of dry brush, which could make this the worst fire season on record.
Since every year deviates in some small proportion from the mathematical average for expected rainfall…then you can count on speculation every year that this could be the worst fire season on record.
And don’t get me started on droughts. The semi-arid Bay Area climate means that there will be stretches, every winter, where things dry out for a few weeks. By the end of the second week without rain—maybe early in the third week—some weather forecaster will allude to the dreaded "D word" as they refer to it in Happy Talk.
And don’t get me started on Global Warming/Climate change. Every deviation from seasonal averages is interpreted as a sign of the coming Climate Apocalypse. Every instance of extreme weather is interpreted similarly. We were told that the extremity of Hurricane Katrina was clearly a sign of things to come, all due to our evil burning of million-year-old plant matter. So…since there was no similarly devastating hurricane this past season, does that mean we’ve turned the corner? Or that the speculation is wrong? Why no, of course not! The absence of disaster is never tallied as a contrary indicator to the speculations. It’s merely ignored, until the next extreme weather event comes along…just as they’ve been coming along for the entirety of human history (and before, amazing!).
Grumble grumble mutter mutter.