September 16, 2020
Global Heating and Fire: California Jumps the Gap

Global Heating and Fire: California Jumps the Gap

The media has been full of fire images from California. But these photos by Noah Berger and Josh Edelson communicate something unique. Certainly, they illustrate the horrific dimensions of the fires by showing the flames breaching man-made and natural boundaries. But the symbolism goes deeper than that and captures two awful facts that are becoming sickeningly apparent to Californians in this particularly early fire season, and in the weeks since these photos were published.

Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP Images.

Caption: In this long exposure photograph, flames consumes both sides of a segment of Lake Berryessa during the Hennessey fire in the Spanish Flat area of Napa, California on August 18, 2020. - As of the late hours of August 18, the Hennessey fire has merged with at least 7 fires and is now called the LNU Lightning Complex fires. Dozens of fires are burning out of control throughout Northern California as fire resources are spread thin.

One is, the scale of these events obviates any sense of their randomness. California has become the latest victim of global heating. Second, there is the sense that California may no longer have the ability to effectively manage these blazes anymore.

These facts make these photos especially potent. The situation has gone way beyond the jumping of one highway or one body of water. California’s firestorms have crossed a much bigger threshold.  

-Michael Shaw

Lead Photo: Noah Berger/AP Caption: Flames from the  LNU Lightning Complex fires jump Interstate 80 in Vacaville, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. The highway was closed in both directions shortly afterward. Fire crews across the region scrambled to contain dozens of wildfires sparked by lightning strikes as a statewide heatwave continues.

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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