Chris Muhl Art © 2018

Thoughts from the Road

I mostly post on this website about my art, but what I have written here arises from my day job as an incident mapping specialist on wildfires.

This season, I’m working with small teams producing maps for the various other teams engaging wildfires. I work out of a trailer, miles away from the dangers of the uncontrolled fire edge. I work to support the firefighters that risk their lives to protect other lives, and homes, and properties.

On my last assignment, I had the tremendous honor of working alongside the incredible women and men of CAL FIRE, the Forest Service, and other agencies and organizations as they battle the Carr Fire around Redding, California. The Carr Fire has been an extraordinarily devastating incident, burning over 229,000 acres, consuming more than 1,000 residences, and claiming the lives of three firefighters and several civilians.

On this incident, I was struck by a firefighter’s comment about the severity of the season’s fires, “climate change should never have become a subject for political debate.” The reality is, the stakes are simply too high. We stand to lose too much. There is no time for debate.

It is true that wildfires occur naturally. However, the severity of California’s fires is escalating and the duration of the fire season is steadily increasing as annual temperatures rise and conditions grow dryer. With this change comes increasing risk to home owners, firefighters, and other emergency responders.

Taking Action Saves Lives

Personally, I ask myself, how could I ever expect firefighters to risk their lives protecting my home if I’m not voting in favor of policies that reduce the risk they encounter in the field.

Whether or not you believe in climate change, there is no denying that the frequency and intensity of wildfire events are growing as a consequence of hotter and dryer conditions. With these changes, lives are at risk. There is no time for blind allegiance and skepticism. We must be proactive today. If something can be done, it must be done.

Click here to be redirected to an informative article in High Country News about the current fire situation in California.

Also, if there are fires near you, check out airnow.gov to see air quality data for your area.