Isn't it remarkable how a catastrophe is never real until it's local? I've been screaming and yelling since Cerro Grande in 2000, shortly after I began blogging [La Mesa, in '77, I'd call an early warning). Las Conchas in 2011 was the real 'new reality' - 43,000 acres burned in the first day. 1 acre per second, wind-driven. You could hear the roar from 50 miles away. It was gobsmacking.
But "new reality of life"? Seventeen years after Cerro Grande nearly took out Los Alamos (and their old radioactive waste sites, which would have been ... dramatic)? Six years after Las Conchas torched much of the eastern Jemez Mountains? Six years after Arizona's Wallow Fire dropped charred branches on my van, sitting hundreds of miles away here in Santa Fe, NM? Five years after the Whitewater/Baldy complex fire took out much of the gorgeous Gila Wilderness?
We don't appreciate the "Gee, this is really bad" melodrama now - strikes us in the Southwest as bicoastal media nose-up-one's-own-butt shortsightedness. Just because our fires were not near metropolitan areas, they got little national media attention. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind. The remote locations may not have mattered to the bicoastal media, but the factors feeding catastrophic wildfires are widespread, nationwide. The media has completely missed and ignored the salient issues.
The new reality is just like the old reality. Dry as a lizard's butt, flammable as pine needles. It's been bad for 20 years already. If we're tinder dry down here, you're dangerously dry up in the Pacific Northwest; the only reason you're not seeing more fires here now is because acres and acres have already been burned.
This writer's not waking up to do any fire prevention; the writer's waking up while the proverbial house is on fire, and has been on fire for years now.
Too little, too late. "Golly, maybe we should have payed attention."
Suffice it to say, not just climate change deniers betray cluelessness. New Yorker, this is really tone-deaf.