They have not yet identified who struck the match. In the horrific fire that has burned the town of Lahaina, killed at least eighty, and destroyed buildings more than a century old, the cause of the blaze has not yet been identified. The New York Times has posted a picture of the destruction and provided lengthy coverage which includes the category: What We Know.
In the Paradise fire, the deadliest fire in California history, it was PG&E’s errant powerlines that sparked the 2018 conflagration that wiped out a town which had no warning. A man in Arizona was charged for starting a wildfire by burning toilet paper. A woman had left a campfire unattended. We like to find accountability, the “single neck to choke” as the business people say. It’s better if a single person or company can be found at fault. But, for Maui, we have to go upwind to understand cause and effect. We have to go back to find causes in stages, to the resorts, the developers, the bombing, the ditches, the plantations, and the money. We have to follow the money, if we want to follow the fire.
Intended Consequences: Climate, Drought, Tourism
The cause of the fire, according to the latest news being disseminated was Climate Change. A hurricane nearby was sending unusually high winds, and Maui had been suffering under an extended drought. “Brush fires” were the cause, though inspectors may still go back through the debris to find an origin zone. It is easy to chalk everything now up to Climate Change, that anonymous boogieman that is lurking under the bed. Where could he possibly have come from? Absent from the phrase is the modifier “Human-Caused,” since this is not the work of any boogieman.
What We Know is where Lahaina was just weeks ago. In a knock-down, drag-out water dispute between tourists, resorts, people who live there, indigenous, and corporate interests, and a government that doesn’t want to deal with the controversy or its own sordid past. Negotiations had deteriorated, which happens when there isn’t enough to go around any more.Continue reading “Lahaina, What We Know”