Arson, climate change, and wildfires

Blogger at Denali National Park

By John Ruberry

Is it a wildfire if an arsonist sets it?

It’s been a brutal season for wildfires in the west. Climate change of course is usually blamed for these fires but what about arson?

The Fawn Fire in northern California, which has burned about 13 square miles, is fully contained after two weeks of destruction. It has destroyed 185 buildings.

How did it start?

A former San Francisco Bay Area yoga teacher, Alexandra Souverneva who claims to be a shaman on her LinkedIn page, is accused of accidentally starting it while trying to boil water to remove bear urine from it. But a California newspaper says that Souverneva may be connected to other fires.

Gary Maynard, a former college professor, is being held without bail for allegedly setting several fires near the Dixie Fire in northern California. He is not accused of starting the Dixie Fire, but the cause of that blaze, which is still undetermined, may have been caused by Pacific Gas and Electric equipment. 

This year, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, over 100 people have been accused of wildland arson.

Conditions are very dry in California–it is suffering from drought conditions. If an arsonist attempts to start a fire in one of the forest preserves near where I live in Morton Grove, Illinois, it will likely be a slow burn, as we’ve had a wet summer here. In California the results will be horribly different. 

If you haven’t heard about arson as the cause of wildfires it’s probably because the mainstream media, to protect another of its narratives, in this case that climate change is an existential threat to humanity, is minimizing arson’s role in wildfires. 

But CNN sees the arson angle of wildfires as a serious enough of a threat to that narrative that it published an article in August debunking it. 

Arson-caused wildfires is something to keep your eye on.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

The desecration of the Cook County Forest Preserves

By John Ruberry

One respite from the hectic way of life in Chicago and its suburbs are the 70,000 acres that comprise the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. I run on trails there that are near my home. I take nature photos there. Others walk, ride bicycles, or just sit and collect their thoughts. Some picnic in the preserves, whether it’s a family or a group of hundreds.

On there is a seamy side too. Some parking lots at the preserves are popular spots for romantic hookups, once in a while some of those large picnics turn violent, occasionally the bodies of murder victims are dumped there, and the Forest Preserve District has a reputation of hiring otherwise unemployable Democratic Party patronage workers. Charles “Cap” Sauer ran the preserves for years. He once confided to Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko about some of his workers, “They know that if they are going to receive a day’s pay, they must give me at least a half a day’s work.”

Despite little or no evidence that outdoor activities pose COVID-19 risks, the FPDCC is making using the preserves more difficult and less enjoyable for the owners of them, that is taxpayers, even though exercise is essential for maintaining good physical and mental health. 

Many forest preserve parking lots, which are often strewn with potholes, are closed on weekends and even daily in some cases because of alleged overcrowding. Oh, if a parking lot is full, drivers do what? They leave. Public washrooms are closed. Where are people supposed to relieve themselves? As a runner, I know how to, let’s say, improvise a short distance from a trail. Let’s say you’d like to sit down during a long walk and you don’t care to plop down on the grass. There’s a rare bench here and there but during normal times people find a picnic table. At most of the preserves near me the tables are now stacked. wrapped in police tape, and barricaded by snow fences. There are “snitch signs” placed all through the preserves asking those full-bladdered visitors to rat-out large groups. Even though for most people their forest preserve experience is a solitary one, as it is with me, or it’s done in twos-or-threes.

Story continues below the photograph.

Barricaded picnic shelter with stacked tables at St. Paul Woods Forest Preserve

Water fountains have not been turned back on after being shut off last year for the winter. Yes, today is the last day of May. Oh, there is no shortage of FPDCC workers–none have been laid off.

Those most revealing sign is one outside St. Paul Woods here in Morton Grove. “Keep it moving. No picnicking. No congregating.” Or as Dean Wormer famously phrased it in Animal House, “No more fun of any kind.”

How did it come to this situation? Yeah, I know, the coronavirus outbreak. Cook County has over 5 million residents. There have been 45,000 confirmed cases of it in Cook with about 2,100 confirmed deaths. And of course most of those fatalities consist of people who were already quite ill.

But we got here because Cook County voters elected a hardened leftist,  Chicago Democrat Toni Preckwinkle, as president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Part of that job is overseeing the Forest Preserve District. Leftists remind me of the smug titular character in the underrated Coen Brothers movie Barton Fink. He loves “the people” but Fink doesn’t like people. The same goes with Preckwinkle and other leftists in government. And their idea of government is that we are a government with a people, not the other way around. 

These are their woods, not ours.

Stay out of my parking lot! 

Stay away from other people! 

No water fountains for you!

Hold your bladders!

No more fun of any kind!

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.