Clearing the Air on No Clear Air


Let me get this out of the way right now – I am currently not in any danger of the California Wildfires making the news daily. The nearest fire to me is about 25 miles away and isn’t moving my way. So, before you say a ‘stay safe’ or ‘be careful’ please direct your concerns to those who have already lost homes and lives to the fires. If that changes, then you will get a different update. Send your thoughts and prayers to those in need, but accept that I am not one.

That being said, there are a couple fires in the area. The Bobcat fire is the one twenty-five miles away in the San Gabriel Mountains above Arcadia and Monrovia. While a small neighborhood is on evacuation notice, most of the fire is burning deeper into the San Gabriels. Already at 33,000 acres, the fire crews are just letting it burn and is only 6% contained. Wildfires, as dangerous as they are, bring balance to the ecosystem. Fires clear dead brush, improve the soil, and open up the land for new growth. Fire crews will only contain fires that need to be contained. With all the fires across the west, they are letting this go and there are suggestions that it won’t be until mid-October.

The Bobcat, as well as the El Dorado Fire in Riverside, is producing a lot of smoke. There’s been little wind the last few days, which allows for better fire control, but has meant the smoke is lingering. The haze started up middle of last week, but then it came in hard over the weekend. Thursday and Friday, the air quality was listed as “Unhealthy for Sensitive People”. Saturday it was just “Unhealthy.” It lay so think that I couldn’t see across the Crescenta Valley to the Verdugo Mountains, just a couple miles away. Through daylight hours, the sky was orange or a shade of sepia. While there is a bit of a campfire smell, it was more acrid. Ash is always around, either lightly, or in flakes, which seems to only outline the cobwebs that have been hidden up until now.

Currently, I am running an air cleaner and recently changed the HVAC filter. It’s warm enough to keep the AC running,which will help clean the air as well. Otherwise, it is like what most of 2020 is, waiting for things to be over.


2 thoughts on “Clearing the Air on No Clear Air

  1. Greg Blum

    1. What is your take on the frequency & intensity of the fires being caused by increasing average temperatures? I am agnostic on the subject; the climate may be changing, but, climate always changes. We have better equipment to study climate change, and it may seem like the global temperatures are causing these events, but it is a constantly changing system, and all we can do is keep watching.
    2. What, if anything, is NASA doing to study climate change?
    3. Maurice Oehler (Chemist), founder of the National Mole Day Foundation is from PDC.

  2. 1. I am not going to deny climate change, but I am not educated enough in the subject to highlight the specific impact on wildfires. Contrary to what I have heard from others, practical and laymen scientific data on climate change is hard to come by; which may be the reason for the differences in opinion. So, i keep my head low when those fights start.
    2. TONS!!! JPL’s leading funding is our Mars research – which is all about the rovers. In a close second is our Earth research. There are at least four JPL missions currently studying climate change (including Ecostress, OCO-3, RainCube, SMAP); and I am aware of at least eight climate change missions we are currently building. As a whole, the NASA budget puts climate change a high priority – though manned flight and Mars exploration are funded ahead of Earth Sciences. It may not be as sexy as dropping an SUV on the red planet, but there is a lot of work done by NASA to explore this field.
    3. I still remember fondly “the day”. Mr. Oehler standing at the front of Chem 101 saying “this is the day.” Then he stepped on a step ladder, and repeated “this is the day.” Then he stepped up on top of his desk and proclaimed “this is the day! The day you will learn what a mole is.” It was still September, but Oct 23rd was a big day at our school with parties, events, and contests. We even had an annual trip to Minneapolis to celebrate Mole Day. He’s a big reason I went into Engineering.

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