Wednesday, October 24, 2007

An Act of God

With Santa Ana conditions, the air has a distinctive smell associated with the low humidity -- actually, it's probably smoke. Wildfires are still burning through the mountains of southern California. Even though we're quite lucky in the city of LA, one can only see the smoke in the distant mountains.

The photo below was taken the other morning (looking east). The red sky is not fire, though, but only the sunlight trying to penetrate the smoke.



I suppose, these are days when a firefighter just can't say, "Oh, I don't feel like going in to work today." Sort of like a case of the "network going down" in a big way, including roads, power lines, phone lines, and even cell phone towers.

Whether the fires were started as an act of God, an act of nature, or the act of a guy barbecuing in his backyard, people need to "why" (when their home goes up in flames). Fires have a certain indifference, especially to human habitation.

But low-burning forest fires have happened naturally in the western mountains and prairies, even before people built their homes there. It clears out forest litter, and even needed by some trees to grow. Some researchers say, though, that "global warming" and human-created climatic changes may be causing more intense fires along with a longer wildfire season. It's something to think about.

[ NASA Photos of October 2007 Fires ]

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