Sunday, November 16, 2008

life in the fire zone

Los Angeles is currently surrounded by flames.  Fires in multiple directions, covering the city with an odd yellow glow that's pretty until you step outside and try to breathe in it.  Mike Davis has some fascinating and controversial things to say about LA's unique position of having "the longest wild edge, abruptly juxtaposing tract houses and wildlife habitat, of any major nontropical city."  This means not only that I pass the occasional coyote on my street at night, but also that the edges of the city run right into fire zones.  Zones where destructive fires are guaranteed at least every couple of years. 

Davis' position is clear: A chapter in his book Ecology of Fear is titled "The Case for Letting Malibu Burn."  And I tend to agree.  It's one thing to live in a state where there will be earthquakes once in a while, it's quite another to build multi-million dollar houses in a known fire zone (which is a bit narrower than a whole state, and thus more easily avoided) because greedy real-estate developers had building restrictions loosened for their own gain.  This shit is crazy!  Davis calls for controlled fires in these regions, which have been proven effective at preventing the spread of wild fires, but rich folk don't want those fires in their backyards.  I guess they'd rather wait for the big ones. Why should they even have a say, when other people's insurance premiums are raised to help them rebuild in these same fire zones?

The photo above has not been altered in any way (naturally, since I can barely use Photoshop), but cameras have limitations.  The colors were actually reversed:  The sky was whitish, and the sun was red like raspberry Jell-O.



sarah said...

Love that picture, but I have to say I'm SOOO happy to be far away from all that SoCal craziness (though thinking of you, of course)!

smear said...

Oh my -- I found out about these fires today and it seems like it might be scary. I hope you're ok and not in danger. I'm assuming if you were, you might not be able to create this post. I agree with your points and those of mike davis. Controlled fires are controversial but probably better than all the alternatives. Why do rich people ruin everything for everyone? They are usually the most santimonious with their local food and organic cotton baby clothes and charity jewelry but refuse to make any changes that would actually be a little bit difficult. I mean, that's a really big blanket unsupported argument, but if you ever pick up vogue or in style magazine, one is somewhat driven to these ideas. j