Let it Burn

Some say California's wildfires are inevitable. Two sharp takes on how to live amongst the smoke.

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The latest California wildfires are expected to burn for weeks. The fire, fueled by the region's strong Santa Ana winds, has so far killed two firefighters and consumed 53 homes and 122 thousand acres of land. Meanwhile, a few intrepid voices dare to suggest that the blazes are natural (as far as we know so far), inevitable, and should be allowed to burn. Two sharp takes on why the wildfires may not be the problem after all.

  • Limit Sprawl, says an editorial in the Los Angeles Times. They say the fires are a natural part of the landscape that Californians will have to learn to live with. "We can reduce fire's harm by severely limiting sprawl into remote areas; regularly clearing near buildings and creating fire buffers along roads and between open lands and inhabited areas; and restoring habitat to a more natural state that provides less fuel."
  • If You Can't Take the Heat, Don't Live in a Fire Zone, writes Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post. Robinson says we should think twice before building cities in natural disaster zones and worrying about the consequences later. "New Orleans," he said, "looked iffy from the start. The first French settlers realized how precarious the site was, with Lake Pontchartrain to the north and the Mississippi River to the south. Their concern was justified when a hurricane promptly swept in and blew the fledgling town away." Robinson isn't advocating the abandonment of large cities, but he says it's smart to, "envision which of our good ideas seems least likely to burden future generations."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.