Extreme Temperature Diary-October 11th, 2019/California…Trying To Adapt To Increasing Fires And Other Climate Crisis Ramifications

Main topic: California…Trying To Adapt To Increasing Fires And Other Climate Crisis Ramifications

I really feel for customers of PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric), the now much maligned and bankrupt utility company that was blamed for sparking some horrendous wilfires from 2018 and now is producing blackouts across Northern California in order to prevent more conflagrations this year.

More from CNN:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/29/business/pge-bankruptcy-fires/index.html

“The company has cited at least $7 billion in claims from the Camp Fire. It is believed that the Camp Fire was started when a PG&E power line came in contact with nearby trees.”

State government now requires these blackouts when certain weather conditions develop, which is a good thing, but can have bad effects. Those of us living in most of the rest of the United States can’t imagine the headaches of people living in California from the ever present threat from climate crisis wildfires, and now what one company is trying to do to adapt to and mitigate the situation. Due to blackouts businesses are suffering because they can’t open, and food that needs to be refrigerated is spoiling. Nursing homes and hospitals are without power, so unless facilities have generators, some of the weakest among Californians are threatened. But, what else should a provider of energy for California do?

It’s my opinion that PG&E and other utilities should have worked with state and federal governments to improve infrastructure years ago, not waiting around for disastrous wildfires to happen. Sigh. As humans we are so reactive and not very much proactive. We also have numerous greedy, self-interested individuals making up our species. Better insulation of wiring is a must, particularly in areas prone to wildfires from high winds, which have a tendency for downing power lines. PG@E, like most companies throughout history, may have tried to cut corners in cost saving moves, which in the long run bankrupted the company. What’s worse, the company is now being accused of diverted millions of dollars from maintaining safety systems to bonuses to executives and stockholders according to Salon. Tisk tisk.

Quoting Salon:

“In 1994, the company’s failure to trim trees near its power lines led to the Trauner Fire in Nevada County, California. In 1997, a jury found the company guilty on 739 counts of criminal negligence for causing this fire. Thanks to a subsequent California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) investigation, the public learned that between 1987 and 1994 PG&E diverted $495 million from its budgets to maintain its systems to boost corporate profits.”

“Decades later, another an investigation by the California Public Utilities Commission found that PG&E diverted more than $100 million in gas safety and operations collected from customers over a 15-year period to spend on bonuses for executives, among other profit-makers for key stakeholders. The investigation linked its inadequate safety culture to the pipeline explosion in San Bruno on Sept. 9, 2010, which killed eight people. In 2017, four fires occurred in California’s Wine Country because trees hit PG&E power lines. The company is also responsible for the 2018 Camp Fire, which was the deadliest in the state’s history.”

Does anyone remember what nearly happened with the Oroville Dam from the winter and spring of 2017? The thing nearly broke from the runoff produced by heavy rain and snow. Here again, infrastructure built during the 1960s is not able to hold up well during the topsy tervy, going from dry to very wet, climate of the 2010s. Call this new “whip-lash” weather brought about by climate change. In the 2010s across California long dry spells have been interrupted by brief periods of heavy rainfall, followed by more hot, dry periods, allowing brush to grow but get parched by early fall, producing more fuel for wildfires. Here is more from Wikipedia on the recent Oroville Dam crisis:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oroville_Dam

Initial spillway damage

The rainy season of 2016–2017 was Northern California’s wettest winter in over 100 years. Heavy rainfall resulted in record inflows from the Feather River, and the spillway was opened in January to relieve pressure on Oroville Dam. After a second series of heavy storms in February, the spillway flow was increased to 50,000 cubic feet per second (1,400 m3/s), and on February 7 DWR employees noticed an unusual flow pattern. This halted spillway outflow, and DWR brought engineers onto the spillway to inspect its integrity. The engineers found a large area of concrete and foundation erosion. This erosion feature was too massive to repair without diverting water to the emergency spillway and halting outflow along the main spillway for a period of time to fix the hole.[39] High inflows to Lake Oroville forced dam operators to continue using the damaged spillway, causing additional damage. The spillway hole continued to grow.[40] Debris from the crater in the main spillway were carried downstream, and caused damage to the Feather River Fish Hatchery due to high turbidity.[41]

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By now I think all of my readers have a clear picture of what Californians are facing in the present day, and what most will have to deal with the next several years and beyond. The old proverbial blame game will be played with plenty of finder pointing and lawsuits to go around, which will cost literally billions of dollars itself. Some of that blame game money could be used to improve infrastructure, though…just sayin’.

Residents of coastal areas across the United States need to take heed of what is happening across California to learn adaption and mitigation lessons for the future. What is not wanted is waste of effort, time, and dollars spent that will not help quality of life in the long run for all involved…But yes we need to punish the greedy. We all need to think and plan intelligently in order to avoid the worst of future climate crisis pitfalls.

Here is more current news concerning fires raging near Los Angeles:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article.)

Here is more climate and weather news from Friday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article.)

Wow! Did it ever get cold in the West in the wake of Winter Storm Aubrey. Check these “ETs” out:

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton- “The Climate Guy”

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