LA Times Boiling Point: The fire right now

June 20, 2023


This story was originally published in Boiling Point, a newsletter about climate change and the environment. Sign up here to get it in your inbox.

My name is Nancy Rivera Brooks, and I’m deputy business editor and editor of the Boiling Point newsletter. I’m filling in this week for Sammy Roth. Don’t worry, Roth stans — he will be back Thursday.

I live next to the rustic, Instagram-worthy Elyria Canyon Park, nestled in the urban environs of northeast Los Angeles. The place provides a look back at our city’s natural environment before development, featuring a California black walnut woodland and challenging hiking trails.

But all that beauty comes at a cost to nearby residents: the constant fear of fire.

I grew up across the street, so I learned at a young age how to tell what kind of smoke was in the air. Was it from a fireplace or barbeque? No worries. (How innocent we were in the 1960s and ’70s about the environmental effects of a blazing log on the fire or a nicely charred steak.) But if the smoke had that distinctive brush-fire smell, I needed to get my butt home and pack my favorite things, in case our family of nine had to evacuate.

So I found this piece by my colleague Haley Smith particularly scary. And really, we should all be scared.

Smith wrote that humanity’s relentless burning of fossil fuels has ensured that wildland fires will scorch ever-larger portions of California — perhaps as much as 52% more by midcentury, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study found that California wildfires consumed five times more area between 1996 and 2021 than in the 25 years prior, an increase attributed chiefly to climate change.

Moving on to another of the four elements ...


The Times’ Editorial Board urged lawmakers to pass SB 252, legislation by Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) requiring pension funds CalPERS and CalSTRS to shed their investments in the largest fossil fuel companies by 2031 and stop renewing or adding to existing investments starting next year. The headline: “California should stop investing its retirement funds in fossil fuels. They’re risky and immoral.”

To read the full LA Times article, click here