The "New Normal" in Washington State

After Two Record-Breaking Wildfires, Residents in One of Washington's Poorest Counties Consider What a Climate-Changed Future Holds


If you don't maintain your property, bad thing can happen.
Worse, bad things can happen to your neighbor's property, because of your inaction.
This State refused to maintain their property, and bad things happened.
Just look around our State Parks, and ask yourself, is this as nice as it was 20 years ago?
Forest fires don't happen overnight, it takes decades for enough fuel to build up.
So, because our State doesn't take care of it's stuff, 3 firemen have died in an auto accident, others were burned, billions of board feet of timber that could have been sold to pay for school funding, people lost homes and memories, and Governor Milk-Carton gives a speech about carbon dioxide before he jets off, literally, spewing tons of CO2.
Climate changes, our world is dynamic, politics don't. They will always prefer to give a speech over action.
Ask your Rep to support healthy forests.
@2 Sargon Bighorn: There is some timber, but it's mostly pine trees, if any, and not Douglas Firs.
But yes--there's a lot more grassland and open spaces that are vulnerable to ever-shifting winds.
I don't think I'll soon forget a photo image I saw a couple weeks ago of a ranch in Twisp with cattle and horses grazing, irrigation sprinklers keeping the grass green----while overhead, the hilltop was a glowing, spreading wave of red!
These fires are worsened by bark beetle infestation which now breeds twice in a season due to warmer temperatures. I don't think number one grass the scale of this problem. It isn't a matter of merely taking out a few dead trees here and there.
The State has reduced grazing, haven't they.
EVERYTHING is burning.
Sorry Sydney, you can't call any kind of climate activity "the new normal" as the climate has always changed and will always change, from global warming as well as natural phenomenons such as El Nino.

I know doomsday stories are fun to write, but they're not accurate.
Hey let's focus on the human element here? The people in this area are in the process of having to reimagine their whole way of life and it's tragic and fascinating. I'm glad Sydney got out there to hear their stories and write this story.
The supreme irony is that most of the people who live out there vote GOP. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.
The same climate forecasts and weather predictions which allow Shell to plan and execute its offshore Arctic oil explorations also tells us that Cascadia is going to lose most of its snowpack.

If you ignore climate change, you're gonna have a bad time.…
@8 - That's just like Pat Robertson blaming hurricanes on gays.
@10 reality has a well established liberal bias.
@4 GlibReaper: The black beetle infestation in the forests and loss of snowpack certainly aren't helping the situation. And smoke from the Eastern Washington wildfires blows west over the Cascades our way. Unbreathable air quality is never good.
@8 MrB, and @9 & @11 GlibReaper: Right spot on. Good point.
If Eastern Washingtonian voters are truly concerned with the fate and future of their wildfire ravaged communities and region, then they should stop blindly supporting the GOP already! The Republican Party and their Tea Party lackeys have microscopically little more to offer than corporate liars in big suits, lobbying for the fossil fuel industry, who keep promising "jobs" (read BNSF, and the Shell & BP oil refineries for starters), new roads, expanding their mega-churches, and guns for all (including newborns). Education, housing, affordable healthcare, long overdue infrastructural repairs, proper emergency preparedness and other services? I guess they don't need those.
It really saddens me that three firefighters, including a 20-year old local resident, were lost in the Twisp fire, while the State Patrol, U.S. Army National Guard, and emergency crews had to really scramble with so little preparedness for all the grim realities of climate change.
Blaming the fires on climate change is a double-edged sword. Will the next winter of normal or excessive snowpack be evidence that climate change isn't happening?
UNRECOGNIZED EMERGENCY? A so far little-acknowledged Arctic Methane heat wave, combined with Global Warming, signals a worst case possibility of human extinction within 5 to 15 years. See HUMAN SURVIVAL at

Emergency or not, life on Earth requires reducing the burning of fossil fuels 80% within 5 years.

New Science (technology in development) can make that possible. "If we have carbon free electricity, the [climate] problem is solved". James Hansen

Along with other breakthroughs, AESOP Energy is developing carbon free electricity - using seemingly impossible, Fuel-Free Engines that can run 24/7 on Atmospheric Heat. Atmospheric Heat is a vast untapped source of solar energy larger than all the fossil fuels on Earth.

Fossil fuels are subsidized to the tune of $5.3 Trillion this year! (International Monetary Fund – Working Paper – WP/15/105 - May, 2015 – Page 30)

An 80% reduction in burning fossil fuels is hard to believe. However, with world-wide mobilization of all renewable technology on a 24/7 basis it could be done.

A 4 engine bomber was produced every 59 minutes 24/7 at Willow Run during WWII. Most thought THAT impossible before it happened. Breakthrough energy technologies are much simpler than bombers.

BOLD ACTION IS REQUIRED High-risk, potentially high-reward, financial support is urgently needed to accelerate the work. Check the facts and act. The lives you save may include your own - and those of everyone you care about.
@13 Mahtli69: The Earth's climates are forever changing. Heavy snowfall isn't particularly in the forecast for 2016. Overuse of fossil fuels has drastically altered our global climates. I am only stating facts.
So they have been punish by 40 years of Democrat malfeasance because they voted for the wrong party?
Man, no wonder so many States have tossed the Democrats out.
@16:...and have suffered greatly from national disasters in blood red states now experiencing extreme drought, severe tornadoes and storms, floods, and wildfires. Does the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with damage in the billions to New Orleans, Louisiana and surrounding communities from 2005, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, derailed oil train explosions in Aliceville, Alabama and in North Dakota, and 300,000 West Virginians suddenly unable to rely on their own drinking water due to a toxic chemical spill into a river just a few miles away from Washington, D.C. ring a bell?
No one political party, not even the Democratic Party, has all the answers. Republicans, however, want to do away with the EPA altogether, put our State and National Parks up for the highest bidder and in addition to buying their own small, lawless government, couldn't care any less about the health of our forests let alone our average citizens.
This is an example of the press problems we have with fire stories. "The land looks like a blackened moonscape," is the text next to a picture which, to me, looks like a still green tree. The hard-copy article photo appears to show two green trees.

If we are to stem the problem of people wanting to nestle their homes (or second homes) next to fire-prone trees in eastern Washington (which creates the pressure to put every fire out immediately) it might be worth paying some attention to the Growth Management Act. Perhaps it is time to review the GMA to see if amendments are needed to identify high fire prone zones and try to keep residential development out of these areas.
Fire happens. The stuff needs to burn and people need to quit living in places where fire is the preferred renewal system by Mother Nature or start building their homes out of something other than fire fuel.
I live in Pateros and was affected last year. This year we have more destruction. I have read all the above comments and would like share some truths from here. We have lost millions of dollars of lumber on the reservation. Many of the homes lost are families that are going on 4th generation ranchers. There homes were built in 1920+ .
DNR has not responded to the fires in a timely manner. Several would not have grown to their current size had someone put them out. 2 of the fires were man made, not from lightening. This is not climate change but irresponsible management of resources. The forests need to be managed, not clear cut and not replanted, not ignored so there is much to burn. We need to find a way that meets both the lumber industry and the environmentalist.

This is a huge recreation area, a huge cattle rancher area, and a huge lumber industry area. We need financial help and support from our sister cities on the coast. Please encourage visitors and donations from your family and friends.
@19: Fires do happen, but wildfires of this record-breaking intensity, spread by wind gusts CANNOT be ignored or brushed off.

Shame on you, Sydney, for trivializing this regional disaster by calling it "the new normal".
Climate change worldwide is here and action must be taken to slow the costly damages made by extreme weather changes.
@22 Mr Bates: I'm sorry about your loss, and to learn that two of the devastating fires in Pateros were man made. You're right, better resource management is needed, and something we can all work on.