My sympathies go out to all the people who have suffered during this time of crisis. My respects go out to all of the amazing firefighters, peace officers, workers, volunteers and public officials who have worked overtime to fight the fires and provide a measure of security for our city.

But homeland security is not just about defeating the enemy at hand. It is about creating a climate of security that foresees and prevents threats. These fires have shown that the biggest threats to our security are from natural disasters and our own flawed model of urban development and dysfunction. It is imperative that we demand leadership for our future and our security that is more than just about endless development and mindless growth. It is about being strategically green, or as Thomas Friedman,

our new green guru, so eloquently argues,

Being green, focusing the nation on greater energy efficiency and conservation, is not some girlie-man issue. It is actually the most tough-minded, geostrategic, pro-growth and patriotic thing we can do. Living green is not for sissies. Sticking with oil, and basically saying that a country that can double the speed of microchips every 18 months is somehow incapable of innovating its way to energy independence – that is for sissies, defeatists and people who are ready to see American values eroded at home and abroad. Living green is not just a “personal virtue,” as Mr. Cheney says. It’s a national security imperative.

Assemblymember Lori Saldana argues that renewable power is good for the planet and good for our security here in San Diego,

One climate change-related issue is critical: we need distributed and locally-generated renewable power for San Diego County’s security, i.e.- solar panels on every public building. Here’s one reason why: My district (the 76th) has no fires, so we are evacuation ground zero – taking in thousands of people from around the county. If power lines to the stadium had burned, we would be in big trouble. Of the 6000+ people at the Q, many are seniors from assisted living, needing various levels of medical care. If there were solar panels around the stadium we could generate power 300 days/year, mostly for the grid.

Another reader, Carrie Schneider, comments that,

Power lines are the putative cause in the largest fire (Witch). A downed power line is a scary source of ignition in a high wind, because the fire is immediately huge. The fire to the south (Harris) affected transmission from a major corridor, causing SDG&E to issue power conservation pleas.

The real issue is how can San Diego learn from this disaster and create an opportunity to establish our city as “America’s finest green city”? One reader, JR argues that,

San Diego may want to revisit the concepts of large parklands running from the mountains to the sea, and looking at Jim Bell’s idea of increased urban density. This may not alleviate the chances of fires, but it may make them less disastrous to so many.

I understand that fires have been around for a long time. But the correlation between climate change, prolonged drought and increased fire seasons is a scientific fact (see Tom Swetnam’s co-authored article). There is no debate on this point.

Our climate has changed, and now we have to respond and radically change the way we do things to prevent more human-caused natural disasters. Friedman, as always, makes this very clear:

We need a president and a Congress with the guts not just to invade Iraq, but to also impose a gasoline tax and inspire conservation at home. That takes a real energy policy with long-term incentives for renewable energy – wind, solar, biofuels – rather than the welfare-for-oil-companies-and-special-interests that masqueraded last year as an energy bill. Enough of this Bush-Cheney nonsense that conservation, energy efficiency and environmentalism are some hobby we can’t afford. I can’t think of anything more cowardly or un-American. Real patriots, real advocates of spreading democracy around the world, live green. Green is the new red, white and blue.

Is San Diego up to the challenge?


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