Good morning.

Humans have been solving problems since the dawn of time.  Those early problems were all related to survival and were constant:  how to get food today; how to avoid becoming food for something else.

Yesterday’s problems have changed only in that our lives may or may not be constantly at stake. 

One case in particular that does put lots of lives at risk are Wildfires.  We have of course had wildfires as long as we’ve had history.  But we have evolved and consolidated so that now, a lot of people live in places prone to wildfires.  That in itself isn’t a problem for everyone.  It would be too easy to dismiss this is irresponsible decision-making about where to live, but we need to focus on the fire.

Fires are getting more destructive and dangerous. 8 of the 20 most destructive fires in California history have occurred since 2017, with the Camp Fire of November 2018 taking the top spot in terms of structures burned (18,804) and people killed (85).

Are wildfires systemic problems with a small set of root causes that we should be able to identify and eliminate?

Or are wildfires “special-cause” problems with a different cause for each?

The answer depends on how we define the problem.  Generally speaking, many wildfires begin from some failure.  The Camp Fire started when a 100 year old Pacific Gas and Electric transformer failed. 

But if we replaced all electrical transformers with new and safer ones, would that put an end to wildfires?

Recently, wildfires have become a political topic that is further dividing our country.  One side views wildfires as the result of poor forest management policies.  The other views wildfires as the result of climate change.

If we stick to those poles, we’ll never have an impact on either.  But if we realize that both are true and we attack these major challenges as the root causes, we can design countermeasures that will have a lasting impact provided we have the will to see them through.

Both climate change and forest management are huge problems that we can’t solve until we break them down, but people have been breaking them down for decades so that we know what causes each and we know what to do with each.

Sadly, we don’t seem willing to pay the cost to correct either of these problems if in fact they can be corrected.

Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow.