Camp Fire was a “climate disaster” Tiny temperatures changes mask dramatic changes underway that call for action

photo by Leslie Layton
Chico State Professor Mark Stemen

by Leslie Layton

2.3 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s how much – or how little, depending on your viewpoint – that the daily average temperature increased in recent years in the Paradise area.

That little temperature increase is what it took to create the environment for a deadly fire that would stun Butte County with its heat and swiftness, demolish almost 18,800 structures, kill 88 people and change the lives of almost every area resident.

Sure, there were other factors that contributed to the devastating character of what is now considered California’s deadliest fire. There was, for example, an increase in the number of sweltering days in recent years, reflecting our longer summers and shorter winters. Warmer nights, too, helped parch vegetation, making the Camp Fire unusually hot and explosive. read more

Camp Fire changed lives: a survivor’s story "This is what being a climate change refugee feels like..."

photo by Andrew Meyer

Allan Stellar with Angel

by Allan Stellar

That awful, awful day.

On that awful day, when Paradise was engulfed in flames, I hugged my yellow lab Angel goodbye. I woke up early, 5 a.m., and decided to leave for work without our normal early morning hike. I lived in the foothills, at 2,000 feet, some 37 miles from Chico where I had work to do as a home health RN.

I had lived in this off-grid solar house for a decade, enjoying the yip yap of coyotes in the country and sleeping on the deck under the stars on hot summer nights. Angel watched me dress that morning with an eerie gaze. It was as if she knew something was going to happen. As I left, I promised I would be back in the afternoon to take her for a hike. read more

Parking lot now a pop-up encampment County residents struggle to help tide of people displaced from Camp Fire

photo by Karen Laslo

First day of Camp Fire

by Leslie Layton

At Chico’s Walmart parking lot, you see the new homeless: Several hundred people, some living out of RVs, some out of cars, some out of tents, some with nothing more than a few blankets. This is what a community borne of disaster looks like: Food vendors who want to give, not sell. Guitar-strumming teenagers, scientologists, massage chairs and chaplains.

This is where many displaced people who were already living on the edge – of canyons, of finances, of California’s blue political culture –lodged when the Camp Fire swept through their communities, and here as elsewhere, disaster response has been underway. Chicoans pull in with boxed donations and trailers hauled from other cities deposit piles of used clothing and worn shoes. read more

Butte County represented at SF march Chicoans join call for action on climate change

by Guillermo Mash

“Sustainability is not stealing from our children’s future” — Ali Meders-Knight

Before heading home from the Peoples Climate March in San Francisco, about 40 Chico-area residents gathered at their mural for a group photo in blue T-shirts designed by the Chico 350 organization. The T-shirts featured an outline of the state of California on fire, overlaid with the caption, “California is burning – vote out climate deniers.”

(video by Guillermo Mash)

“It was an amazing experience — a once in a lifetime experience,” said Chico organizer Dave Garcia of the march. “People united here in solidarity hoping that our leaders and political officials would take note and really start doing something about climate change. It’s happening right now and it’s only going to get worse.” read more

Mechoopda design to become part of S.F. street mural Butte County contingent prepares for global action on climate change

photo by Karen Laslo

Ali Meders-Knight shows her painting next to the Mechoopda basket (lower right) that provided inspiration.

by Leslie Layton

When Ali Meders-Knight was asked to provide mural art for the local contingent at the upcoming San Francisco march for climate action, she thought of the basket designs used by her Mechoopda ancestors.

She thought about historical descriptions of the Northern Sacramento Valley, when birds and butterflies were so numerous they sometimes blocked any view of the sky.

And before that day was out, she had a painting that will be used as a template for a mural panel at San Francisco Civic Center. read more

Protesters gather outside congressman’s pricey fundraising event

photo by Karen Laslo

Wes Owens, Raeanne Flores-Owens and Micha Lehner were among those protesting the conservative District 1 congressman.

Chico’s Raeanne Flores-Owens protested with about 19 other people Monday, saying that while Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) was raising money for his re-election campaign, much of the Northern Sacramento Valley was burning. “We are covered in smoke, it’s hazy, our children can’t play outside,” she said of the Carr Fire’s impact.

The 110,000-acre Carr Fire has been identified as the most destructive fire in Shasta County’s history, and the weather system the fire is generating has been linked to climate change. Air quality in the northern valley today ranges from “unhealthy for sensitive groups” to “hazardous,” according to KRCR news. read more

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