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California’s Fiery New Normal Means We Are All Vulnerable

California’s Fiery New Normal Means We Are All Vulnerable

Tomás Morales Rebecchi

Food & Water Watch Ventura County Organizer Tomas Rebecchi was forced to evacuate the devastating wildfires this week. He reflects on how almost losing everything has strengthened his commitment to his work and community.

"We were among more than 200,000 Southern Californians forced to evacuate our homes."

IN the PNW, the weather patterns have already begun changing drastically. We have had the driest summer in decades, and the fires in the surrounding forests with stagnated air have made our valleys suffocate with smoke.

We never had a week without rain in our typical winters. Now high pressures sit over cities and the we have some rain every other week.

Portland’s popularity has attracted over half a million new residents in the last three years alone. You can tell the newbies by their glazed look in their eyes and their massive trucks and arrogant attitude.

It was only during rush hour that we would wait in traffic for two light cycles.
Now the time of day does not matter.

Our economic policies and the promise of an unsustainable dream as a lifestyle has gotten us here.
We can’t trace a path back. Not even in Portland.


You ain’t seen nuthin yet.

Climate change refugees will storm across borders by the millions as sea levels rise and prolonged drought ravages once fertile farmland. It’ll start as a trickle, it already has, then a cataclysm–a huge glacier breaking free in the Antarctic?–will flood coastal areas in just a year or two.

Because we couldn’t and wouldn’t understand that our actions have consequences.


But what about Portland’s much-vaunted public transit?

Not scheduled to handle these numbers.

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The location of these fires have caused that America song “Ventura Highway (in the sunnnshine)” to play continuously in my head. It all left me thinking about my young years when pop culture was pretty much a 24/7 celebration of supposedly how wonderful and cool California was. The whole cultural phenomenon offered nothing to us people in the east - with Springsteen’s song about gritty and grim northern New Jersey only contributing to the problem. ( I suspect a lot of California natives came to think whole eastern US is like New Jersey).

But that is all changing fast, as the same climate and terrain that made southern California so popular was also a climate and terrain that was incompatible with the affluent suburban sprawl of that area. At least we will never have to worry about wildfires in my neck of the well-watered woods.


Yeah, I used the “Max” a couple times during brief visits to Portland, but got the impression that Portland’s light-rail transit was mostly show - not practical day-to day use that replaces a car. For city the size of Portland, what is really needed is very frequent service using ordinary buses - with no route having more than 15 minute headways and the busy routes every few minutes. Here in the rust belt, our reactionary politicians in Harrisburg have destroyed our once-good transit service. When I moved here in the 1990s, There were many middle-class people who never owned a car or even had a driver’s license.

But one would think that Portland could accomplish a major transit expansion. The California newcomers are bringing their suburban negative attitudes toward public transit (“only losers ride the bus”) with them - so the challenge is getting the riders-of-choice to use transit.


I live in Germany at the moment. I have relatives here. They have expressed sympathy for the people of California. I do too, and I also feel sympathy for the people of Houston and Puerto Rico for horrendous floodings that have turned their dwellings and lives upside down.

But wait! Lord (don’t know whose lord) Christopher Monckton and his stalwart gang of GCWD’s (Global Climate Warming Deniers), Dr. Judith Curry (as in Currywurst, a German culinary treat) who served with the NASA Advisory Council of Earth Science Subcommittee of the US Senate and Dr. William Happer (as in Happless), Professor Emeritus of Physics at Princeton University all insist that there is no such thing as Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). They are still peddling this rubbish after years of their incessant wanking. Do they really believe this nonsense that they spew up, or is it for the money. I believe it’s the latter and I detest them for it.


Yup, but hey, look outside, it’s snowing!..In December!

“…glazed look in their eyes and their massive trucks and arrogant attitude…”

Exactly. If it were up to me, I’d prohibit the manufacture of all of these ludicrous, gas-guzzling eyesores. With the stakes this high. "Mini"vans too.

Tomas: I know that you and your family are dedicated climate chaos warriors. My sincere thanks to you and to them.

Ah-yup, them there chickins is a-comin’ home to roost - jist like we was a-warned about twenny or thirdy y’ars ago, by gummy . . .

I agree, but we gotta be careful – If’n they recognize us, we’ll get “smogged” by one o’ them trucks.  ‘Sides, any kind o’ reggy-lation is un-Amurikun . . .

OTOH, Mini-vans aren’t necessarily near as bad — IF they’re really being used to haul a big bunch of people around instead of using two – or three – coupes for the same load.