Is This the New Normal?

There are at least five active wildfires in Valley County, Idaho alone. One of those fires, the Mile Marker 73 Fire, sent WC and Mrs. WC on a gnarly detour along a ridge above the North Fork of the Payette River and Highway 55, our intended route. The detour was along a logging road with a very steep descent – the Banks Grade – back down to the highway, past the fire.

One of the advantages of the detour was exceptional views of a rapidly expanding fire.1

Mile Market 73 Fire from Brownlee Road, Central Idaho

Mile Market 73 Fire from Brownlee Road, Central Idaho

Amazingly, the hot shot fire crews were able to hold the fire to 4,653 acres under very tough conditions: steep hills, hot, dry conditions, wind and single digit humidity. Serious props to the fire crew.

Another View of Mile Marker 73 Fire, Central Idaho

Another View of Mile Marker 73 Fire, Central Idaho

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke thinks the cause of all wildfires is the failure to cut enough trees. Except there are no trees on the hillside where the Mile Marker 73 Fire was. It’s sagebrush, bitterbrush and grasses. Not a lot to “harvest” there. Four of the other five Valley County fires were similar. The claim would also come as news to folks in Redding, California, where suburban areas burned.

The fires in Valley County, Idaho are the result of more than five weeks without precipitation, and record and near-record heat. The wildfires are the result of the anthropogenic climate change that Secretary Zinke denies is occurring. Where wildfires have gotten in to forests, the fire is burning hotter because of foolish past policies of the Forest Service and trees that have died as a result of heat stress, or been weakened by the heat and drought and died of diseases and pests they could not fight in their weakened state.

Until we address the reality of climate change, this will be the new normal.

But Secretary Zinke and his buddies in the resource extraction industries don’t see a profit in addressing climate change. Which is how we got where we are and why it’s going to be terribly difficult to change things.


  1. One of the disadvantages were the fully loaded logging trucks going the opposite direction. Irony tastes a lot like dust and ashes. 

5 thoughts on “Is This the New Normal?

  1. As I have said before climate change is real and humans have had an impact. However climate change swings have happened for all recorded history either human or in the ice and other records. Sometimes we give ourselves to much credit in a very complex system of chaos that governs climate. That being said if we can do anything to help why not?!!? Your take on the $$ is dead on. Unfortunately it seems that the big $ crew needs to find a way to make more $$ in trying to deal with climate change than in over using finite extractable resources. In the meantime we can vote, write and promote conservation. No doing so is abdication to the big $$ exploiters.

    • There has never been a time in the last 12,000 years (as far back as can be reliably determined) during which climate change occurred as quickly as is happening now. There is not time in the last 18,000 years (likely much longer) when CO2 levels have increased as rapidly as they are now. And there has never, ever been a time when fossil fuels have been burned as they are now. While climate systems are chaotic, cause and effect still operates in them.


    • As you probably know during the “dark ages” we saw a reversal in industrial coal burning etc. and some reversal in apparent climate warming in a quite rapid period of time. Still some debate on that being mostly localized or not. The big difference now is there are a whole lot more of us and a whole lot more $$ being poured into extracting and using fossil fuels. Climate change can be localized and global at the same time. There have been more rapid changes in global temps in the past but they were mostly down because of volcanic activity. The rebounding temps were also more rapid but these events were of relatively short duration compared to the last 40 years. My point is while we have a “minority” impact we are not the “major” determinate of climate change. However a “minority” influence in the “law of chaos” by the nature of that theorem can have a disproportionate impact and we humans seem to be playing that “minority” role well. Hence why I say if we can do something to change our impact why not!!??!! The answer so far has continued to be $$$. Irony is that as some of my professors pointed out years ago that periods of global warming preceded ice ages as fast as temps have been rising maybe we should keep our snow shoes handy.

  2. One comes to belief in God and his Word only by faith not by logic and only God can give someone faith. I say this to make it clear I am not trying to “convert” anyone to my Christian faith. I just finished reading a part of the Bible today that was part of my daily devotions. It brought to mind how some who call them selves “christians” exploit their fellow man, other creatures and the environment we all depend on because they say God tells them to. The tele-evangelists that say send me $$ so I can buy a new jet (fossil fuel burner) to spread the Gospel are a pet peeve of mine and a good example of those whose god is $$. To me and many biblical scholars and theologians this Psalm tells us that we have a responsibility to be good stewards over the creatures and the land God gave us dominion over and sadly we humans do not do a very good job of it … “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.” Psalm 8:4-8. We humans of any and all faiths or beliefs need to step up to the plate and take care of the World we live in.

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