Is anybody listening?
If there is a link between the fires of Northern California and the war in Iraq, it is the thread of human ignorance and our remarkable ability to keep our heads in the sand (HCN, 7/21/08). The fiasco that is Iraq was completely preventable and the result of intentional deceit, stunning hubris and callous disregard for the fragility of human life. The fires that are devastating Butte and other tinder-dry counties could have been prevented and sadly are just the latest example of what climate scientists decades ago began warning us would occur if we continued heating the planet. It is remarkable how short-sighted we are and how skilled we are at failing to grasp the enormity of our folly. With the exception of our military families, Americans have not directly suffered for the hell we have visited upon Iraq and what some among us would easily send raining down upon innocents in Iran, but these fires do give us a small glimpse of that hell. And most frightening, if the models are correct, tomorrow's woes will make today's look tiny. In the midst of endless smoke and fire, there are lessons to be learned. But no evidence yet we're listening.