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Angella d'Avignon, "Location Not Found"
"I felt a folksy voyeurism tinged with faint nostalgia for the disaster of fire season. This instinct seemed as virtually distant and surreal as toggling through images of old Paradise on Street View. My obsession with refreshing the situation in Paradise was akin to homesickness; my only way to participate or experience its intensity was limited to haptics. I experienced a sudden wave of topophilia — a strong sense of attachment to a place, a notion that its terrain was connected to my life — for both a time and a community that no longer exists, even in the unlikely case that it returns, in the next decade, in another form."

"Google Maps have deepened this belief that a map is key to how we experience place by giving us an “interactive” mode of exploring a location through Street View, and archiving panoramic images in its database, making years’ worth of “real time” available to a user. What is off screen in this model is offline and may as well not exist — those unmarked places come to resemble, as time passes, lost cities."

"when the past happens overnight, how will technology decide to reflect the new (or newest) reality? How quickly can you update a disaster site? Unlike a typical ghost town, its infrastructure isn’t physically preserved; instead, its neighborhoods and businesses are time-capsuled online more thoroughly and accessibly than any historically devastated location in the state"

"The digital imprint hasn’t caught up with the rapid devastation. Archeologists dig through physical ghost towns to learn about the people who lived there, but now anyone can excavate traces left by the people who lived and traveled through Paradise when it was standing. The flash-bang of Paradise’s ruin pulled so much national attention and so fast that it left a gaping rift between its present and past. It created an unprecedented demand for “maps” to memorialize a place marred by tragedy, left online as though it were still there, to even broaden the demands of “mapping” itself."
AngelladAvignon  RealLife  wildfires  California  Google  maps  mapping  cartography  place  homesickness  2019Faves 
6 weeks ago by briansholis
The Woolsey fire started at the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory
'The speculative and non-credible have now happened. A fire burned through most of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, a site contaminated with radioactivity and toxic chemicals allowed by decades of shoddy environmental controls.'

This site is legendary as a place where dangerous, toxic and radioactive chemicals were experimented with - indeed it was where the 1959 sodium reactor partial meltdown occurred. I wouldn't want to have been downwind of this fire...
health  santa-susana-field-laboratory  nuclear  fast-breeders  atomic-energy  meltdowns  history  toxic-waste  california  woolsey-fire  wildfires 
7 weeks ago by jm
Defensible Space | Boston Review
The idea of defensible space strikes me as an intrinsically western one. It has taken a tremendous amount of government money, environmental engineering, and colonial violence for there to be such a thing as “private property” in the West, and for people to live out their—historically speaking—absurd fantasies of independence and self-reliance, to create their own western defensible space. And yet still, for the one third of the United States that lives in the wildland-urban interface, each house in each subdivision attempts to surround itself by its own barrier of self-created defensible space, each pretending to be self-reliant yet in need of massive federal funds for power, water, roads, and firefighting.
I don’t want my parents’ home to burn. I spent part of my trip home this summer helping them water the lawn and flower beds around the house and mow the dried pasture grass—all the while contemplating the stumps of larches that had been cut down outside my bedroom window. And yet I recognize that the demand and the desire to live in the West, as it has long been practiced in this country, is destroying the possibility of actually doing so. Defensible space is the present lodged securely within its own narrowed future. If the western narrative stays in this future anterior tense%
wildfires  thewest  oregon  ecology  forests  climatechange 
7 weeks ago by arosner
Climate change is making California's fires bigger
“We've been lengthening fire season by shortening the precipitation season, and we're warming throughout,” says Swain. “That's essentially what’s enabled these recent fires to be so destructive, at times of the year when you wouldn't really expect them.”

The total number of wildfires in California hasn’t increased; in fact the numbers were a lot higher in the 1980s and 1990s than in the past decade. The total acreage burned fluctuates considerably from year to year, depending on many factors, including luck: Rain dampens things down early, or fires start in places where they are easier to contain.

Over the past century, California has warmed by about three degrees Fahrenheit. That extra-warmed air sucks water out of plants and soils, leaving the trees, shrubs, and rolling grasslands of the state dry and primed to burn.

That vegetation-drying effect compounds with every degree of warming, explains Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, meaning that plants lose their water more efficiently today than they did before climate change ratcheted up California's temperatures.
California  wildfires  climate_science_primer 
january 2019 by huntercutting

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