June 21, 2008. Moving Day for our family. At last we had decided to move into our solar “off grid” cabin full-time; leaving the excessive opulence of the Napa Valley for the nowhere-to- be-seen opulence of the small hamlet of Concow, in the foothills of Butte County.Perhaps you remember that day? The importance of that day has been missed by most Butte County residents. I remember June 21, 2008 like I remember where I was when the Twin Towers fell or when the first space shuttle exploded. The day of the Lightning Complex fires should be etched in your memory too. That was the day Climate Change became very difficult to deny in Butte County.
Set the scene: Northern California had experienced a few years of extreme drought. Summer had arrived early. Temperatures had been downright hot for a couple of months previous to that June day. Everything was already bone dry. Then, a “freak” lightning storm blew in, dazzling the night skies with thousands of lightning strikes. You remember the result: For a month it was difficult to go outside because of the smoke; half of Paradise was evacuated; 33,000 acres of Lassen National Forest burned. Residents of the space station could watch the smoke plume from low Earth orbit.We had turned off all media in our home in the Napa Valley getting ready for the move into our new solartopian cabin. The Internet was off. Television off. Everything was packed up the night before—U-Haul waiting. We didn’t listen to the radio. We were ignorant of events in the Foothills as we left the Napa Valley that morning. But when we got to the Foothills, we could see dozens of plumes of fire rising into the air. Looked like a war zone. One particularly nasty plume, the biggest ugliest mushroom cloud, was quite close to where our 350 square foot dream home resides. Too close.
And it was close; the road to our house was closed due to fire. We had to park the U-Haul for a couple of weeks and sleep in a shelter in Oroville. From the shelter, we watched the fire reports as the “burned” area crept closer to our new home. Fear. Anxiety. Such rotten luck--we muttered as we watched the forest service ranger post the map that said that the fire had consumed the area that contained our home. Now that is a helpless feeling. Burned over? We didn’t even get to spend one full night in this new home.
In the end, the house was saved. We were one of the lucky ones---the fire went around our property and some brave fire fighters saved many of the houses on our ridge. They have our deepest thanks.Meanwhile, that summer of 2008, Dan Logue worked to secure the Republican nomination to be our Assemblyman. He eked out a win for the nomination and won the general election easily. Logue then, in a spasm of first term arrogance, went on to write Proposition 23 (some say with the help of an oil think tank in Texas) which attempted to undue California’s nation leading effort at lowering carbon emissions. Even Butte County voted Prop 23 down in 2010.
Dan Logue is on the record as a Climate Change Denier. And proud of it! He is a follower of the 2 percent of climatologists who state that climate change is not a problem. Although the Deniers position keeps changing. Sometimes they cite studies that cherry pick data and proport to show that climate hasn’t warmed over a recent eleven year period; sometimes they state that warming is a natural phenomenon and is not caused by human activity; sometimes they state that warming exists, but the scientists are too “alarmist” about the consequences (they like to say CO2 is good for plants). One thing all these Climate Change Deniers do believe is that the carbon economy (which they equivocate with economic growth) should continue regardless of the price; we should pump every drop of oil, raze the boreal forests of Canada for the tar sands, frack every wild land in Utah--- even if that means the end of the Holocene.
For those of us who lived in the Foothills in the summer of 2008 (or tried to move there)---all we needed to do was breathe the smoky air to know that climate change was very real. That huge, spectacular fire was exactly what we can continue to expect in the next 100 years as CO2 keeps climbing, world temps keep rising, ice keeps melting.The evidence will continue to mount: such as this year’s continuing Texas drought and fires that destroyed the Texas winter wheat crop; the drought in Georgia this summer which devastated the peanut harvest and will raise the price of Jiff; the decline in the corn and soybean harvest in the Midwest this year because of late spring rains, extreme heat and a late summer drought---until, one day, probably not in the too distant future, even Dan Logue will have to admit that he should have looked out the window at the Lightning Complex fires of 2008 and not bother with writing Prop 23.