Powerful roll call
The lead to your Aug. 18 editorial is a gem. It would not be a stretch to hear names like Antietam and Shiloh included in your haunting “roll call” of valley fires. Powerful piece. Thank you.
Watch the PUD
Since my introduction to electricity generation, distribution and scamming of public users I’ve been a booster of “distributive generation.” The closer users are to generation, the more energy and economic is their power use.
I’m thankful for those in the Methow Valley that made it possible for me to further my education when I served as an Okanogan PUD commissioner. It was a rough six years (2001-2006), but I was glad for the opportunity for more learning after retirement.
Thanks again, and keep your eye on your PUD commissioners; their job is to see that you get energy and economic efficiency. Residential solar panels cannot be beat in accomplishing that goal.
Libby Creek Watershed Association
Not just climate change
I am writing in response to the recent letter from Kelly Grayum, who pointed out that fires and smoke have been increasing in recent years, that the world is warming, and that we therefore need to do more to combat climate change. (I hope that’s a fair summary).
According to the IPCC, the climate has warmed since pre-industrial times by 1.9 degrees F, an amount that probably makes both drying and ignition somewhat faster but not likely enough to cause a huge increase in annual burning. I am not a climate denier (and I favor a carbon tax), but I think there is considerable evidence that forest management practices rather than climate change are the main reason for the increase in fires over the past few decades.
Before the arrival of Europeans, wildfire and smoke were abundant in the West. In the 1900s, we learned how to reduce wildfire but the unintended consequence was that unburned fuels accumulated and eventually made larger fires more likely. The unburned forests and the summers with minimal fire and smoke that some of us older people remember is neither natural nor sustainable.
If we want to reduce the fire threat and the amount of smoke that we are exposed to, we need to change our forest management practices and do much more thinning. We need to recognize that our “natural” forests resulting from fire prevention are no more natural than a well-managed thinned forest and considerably less sustainable. Thinning does not mean a return to the massive clear-cuts of old. It should be done with serious attention to erosion control, wildlife habitat and esthetic values. We also need to recognize that selling some of the thinned timber from public lands in order to help finance thinning is not evil, but a good use of natural resources.
Climate change is an important issue, but blaming it exclusively for our fires distracts us from understanding the real causes of what we have been going through and from taking the most effective preventive measures.
Guard against EMP
We must do more to strengthen our power grid against an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event. Such an event can result from an attack by an enemy, or it can occur naturally. It could result in devastating loss of life. here is disagreement on this, but why take chances?
We should also have a ground-based GPS back-up system (like Russia has), or we could lose internet in an anti-satellite attack.