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Wake Up & Smell the Inferno

by: Andrew Davey (atdleft)

Tue Jul 03, 2007 at 12:03:15 PM PDT


(Cross-posted at Ditch Crazy Dana) 

Have you seen the weather report lately? I guess I shouldn't be surprised when I see this in the OC Register, but I am. Wow, it gets hot down here... But rarely THIS HOT!

People everywhere were beginning to seek relief Monday from a heat wave that will intensify over the next three days, with temperatures forecast to hit 105 degrees in some inland areas.

The worst heat will come Wednesday – the Fourth of July – says the National Weather Service. But by mid-afternoon Monday, the temperature had hit 99 in Mission Viejo and 96 in Placentia. In Palm Springs, it was 114.

The heat wave will be so oppressive the weather service has issued an "excessive heat" advisory for Wednesday and Thursday, meaning that temperatures will be high enough to cause heatstroke and dehydration.

Whoa! That's hot! But wait, why are we having more of these extreme heatwaves? We've had plenty of hot weather in Southern California before, but rarely this much reoccurring throughout the year. Wait, could this have something to do with it? Follow me after the flip for more...

Andrew Davey (atdleft) :: Wake Up & Smell the Inferno
OK, OK, so we've heard all the rhetoric about climate change (aka global warming) causing more severe weather. We've heard all the warnings about future killer hurricanes, massive flooding, lethal heatwaves, and just all around more erratic weather. But wait, what if all of this severe weather isn't waiting for the future? What if we're experiencing the consequences of ignoring climate change now?

Remember seeing this in The Washington Post last August? Well, you should. Oh yes, and would you like some ice water to drink while reading this?

Heat waves like those that have scorched Europe and the United States in recent weeks are becoming more frequent because of global warming, say scientists who have studied decades of weather records and computer models of past, present and future climate.

While it is impossible to attribute any one weather event to climate change, several recent studies suggest that human-generated emissions of heat-trapping gases have produced both higher overall temperatures and greater weather variability, which raise the odds of longer, more intense heat waves. [...]

And researchers at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., reported this week that nighttime summer temperatures across the country have been unusually high for the past eight years, a record streak.

"It's just incredible, when you look at this thing," said Richard Heim, a research meteorologist at the center. He added that only the Dust Bowl period of the mid-1930s rivaled recent summers for sustained heat levels.

And my goodness, we're feeling the effects of this here in California! Look at all the wildfires burning around us. Check out the record-breaking heat in the Inland Empire. Even parts of the Bay Area may hit triple digits this week. We've had plenty of heat before in California, but never like this before.

OK, so it's extra hot this week. So what? It's perfect beach weather! Well, that or shopping in a nice, big air-conditioned mall. Well, that may be true. However, heat like this can also be deadly. Remember all the people who died in last year's heatwave?

Just take a look at some of the nasty health effects of this extreme heat. Bodies get stressed from the extra pressure on the circulatory system. And for people with circulatory problems, this extra pressure can be lethal. Heart-related illnesses escalate, leaving anyone with heart conditions extra vulnerable. And of course, anyone can be susceptible to suffering heat stroke. And if not caught in time, heat stroke can leave one dead.

So why again are we suffering from this extreme heat? The OC Register actually had a good article a couple of weeks ago that gave a good answer. Basically, it's the climate crisis finally crashing down upon us.

While experts debate the exact health effects of climate change, many scientists agree that a growth in heat waves is among the most inevitable. In many areas of the United States, Earth's rising temperature will increase the intensity, number and duration of heat waves in the summer and bring more winter precipitation as rain, said Paul Epstein, associate director for the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School in Boston. [...]

Between 1970 and 2004, greenhouse gas emissions believed to contribute to rising temperatures increased 70 percent, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Scientists have been examining the effects of climate change since the early 1990s, Epstein said. "Finally we're seeing strong signs of it and some of them are way ahead of schedule."

So what can we do now? Aren't we doing plenty already to stop the climate crisis? What about that "Global Warming Solutions Act" that was signed into law last year? Well, the Governator has already been working on ways to weaken the implementation of that and other laws to please his corporate sugar daddies. Meanwhile in Washington, Congress is just now beginning to take some real action on finding solutions to the climate crisis. But of course, anything that Congress passes would have to get through George W. Bush, who still doesn't seem interested in finding any real solutions.

So what can we do? What can we do right now? Well, we can join Environment California in sending personal messages to our Representatives' iPods, urging them to take action on federal legislation to take on climate change. Send an email to Governor Arnold, and let him know that you don't appreciate him weakening the implementation of the climate change law that he had claimed as "his achievement" last year. Oh yes, and if you're healthy and able-bodied, do your best to only use the energy that you need. By all of us being more efficient with our energy usage, we're reducing our carbon footprint AND allowing people who really need that air conditioning to use it.

So go ahead, go to the beach! Just think about riding the bus there, or carpooling with friends. Jump in the pool! Just remember to keep the AC to a minimum when you're not in the house. And please, have a great Fourth of July holiday! Just remember that there are plenty of things we can do to prevent future Fourth of July holidays from becoming blazing infernos that none of us could ever enjoy. : )

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The major concern (8.00 / 3)
Is water.

As has been reported, the 2006-07 season has been the driest in LA since records started being kept in the 1880s with only 3.5 inches of rainfall at the LA Civic Center. The rest of the state is just as parched, whether it's ranchers here in Monterey County who have had to send their herds elsewhere to find grass, or the Sierra Nevada where a small snowpack and low moisture levels led to the Tahoe fire, or urban areas up and down the state that are facing mandatory rationing.

Californians have long been able to deal with the heat; I can well remember many 100+ days during the summers (as well as the early fall) in OC. But without water, it becomes far more difficult to beat the heat - not just water to drink and cool off in, but water to power the massive turbines at Shasta Dam or Boulder Dam or other sites.

This state has had mega-droughts before - an estimated 200-year drought hit during the Middle Ages, for example. But with human-induced climate change we could see a return to this pattern. Surely we know that since 1976, the unusually wet period experienced by California in the 20th century has ended, with a few wet years punctuating long dry spells.

California's urban landscape has long been built in total ignorance of natural conditions. We assume that the water will always be there and when it isn't, we'll just steal it from someone else. As wu ming so well noted, though, it is long past time for us to start living and building in a way that works with natural rhythms and local climates, instead of against them.

Anyhow. The OC heat is slated to ease by the weekend, which is good because my sister's having an outdoor wedding on Saturday up in the Tustin hills. 80-something is much better than 90-something.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave


So when are you in town? (0.00 / 0)

Why not come to Drinking Liberally and spend some quality time with real OC progressives (Yes, there ARE more of us out here!!) ? There's NEVER a drought of good mojitos at Johnny's bar (if you're the drinking type... I'm not, but all my intoxicated friends love them.)! We're always open to visitors, so please feel free to drop by Thursday night. : )

OK, now back to serious stuff... Yes, drought may be yet another nasty side effect of climate change that we'll have to deal with in SoCal. It's just too bad that other local water agencies aren't following Irvine Ranch's lead in encouraging wiser water use. It's actually working so well that the other water agencies in Orange County are now counting on Irvine Ranch to bail them out when their wells run dry!

We really need more incentives to get people to be water wise. Encourage xeriscaping. Provide discounts to people who use less water. Provide tax breaks to local businesses that save water. Whether or not climate change results in more severe drought for SoCal, we need to do a better job of using the little water we have here more wisely.



Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )

[ Parent ]
Why are comsumer fireworks still legal in California? (8.00 / 1)
Speaking of extreme dryness and July 4th...

Can anyone explain why fireworks are legal in California?  We spend all summer worrying about wildfires and then sell people 1200 degree spark fountains and sparklers for one week in June and July.  It's insane.

The patchwork of local regulations we have now isn't working either, because it's much too easy for people to drive 15 miles to a town that does sell fireworks even though their own town prohibits them.  And towns that do sell fireworks doesn't have any incentive to ban fireworks because the sales are supporting their Little League and they are collecting sales tax revenue by selling fireworks to every community in a 15-mile radius.  We should be listening to the National Fire Protection Association, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the 22 other health and fire prevention organizations and eliminate sales of fireworks to consumers.

http://www.nfpa.org/...

Fireworks should only be used by licensed professionals at permitted events.  Fireworks should not be sold to the general public as a consumer product.


Yes, even though most OC cities banned fireworks... (8.00 / 1)
(consumer fireworks, that is) People still get them as they're legal in Santa Ana (sigh), Costa Mesa (HUH??!!), and three other cities in the county. And the way all the cities are smashed together in OC, it's super easy to buy some fireworks in Costa Mesa, and then sneak them across the border into Newport Beach (where they're banned) and fire away. Way to burn down the neighbors' houses!

So yes, I completely agree with you that fireworks should only be used by licensed professionals at official sanctioned events. I'm just wondering whether it's better for us to pressure our local governments to enact bans (where there's not already one), as it seems Sacramento is having a hard time dealing with all the other issues that it's supposed to tackle. But yes, you're right that the fire hazard is just too great to have people running around with these instant wildfire starters.

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
Same reason we continue to do anything else stupid and reckless (8.00 / 2)
Because we always have, and besides, it's cool.

Personally I see a strong correlation between resistance to fireworks and smoking bans, and resistance to other lifestyle changes that we need to be making to deal with the climate crisis. Americans get used to thinking that their reckless lifestyles are perfectly normal and acceptable and fun and that to ask them to change it is to speak heresy. We routinely deny the consequences of our actions, even when they stare us in the face. We come up with terms like "nanny state" and romanticize the 1950s to help us avoid facing reality.

If we really want a martial celebration of American independence, I say we bring back the old militia drill. All able bodied men gather on the village green (or county regional park), walk around in formation for an hour or two, shoot off some cannons, and then spend the rest of the day getting rip-roaring drunk. If it worked in 1800, dagnabbit, it can work today.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave


[ Parent ]
Wildfire isn't cool... (0.00 / 0)
So allowing all these consumer fireworks in such a fire-prone area as Orange County (and the rest of SoCal, for that matter) is just STUPID. Perhaps what we can do is encourage entire counties to enact bans on these dangerous fireworks. It's within their jurisdiction, and it would prevent the nasty occurrence of "smuggling" fireworks from a city where they're legal to one where they're not.

But where I must disagree with you is on the "old militia drill". Seriously, does Huntington Beach need MORE drunkards on July 4? Methinks not. I say let's just stick with official sanctioned fireworks displays, and perhaps not allow so many alcohol vendors in places like Surf City where there are already a lot of rowdy crazy people. ; )

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
That may be part of it (0.00 / 0)
One added reason is that the consumer fireworks industry (which consists of two companies Phantom Fireworks and American Promotional Events, Inc (i.e. TNT Fireworks)) has enlisted wholesome groups like Cub Scouts, Little League and the VFW to sell fireworks for the week that they are legal in California. 

http://www.fireworks...

What City Councilman wants to go against Little League and the VFW?

I was surprised to see SFGate (the Chronicle) advocating breaking the law today though.  Buying fireworks and taking them into any of the Bay Area communities that prohibit them (which is every single one except San Bruno, Dublin, Union City, and Newark) is illegal.


[ Parent ]
hello Mr. Nanny state (8.00 / 1)
Fireworks rock and should be legal everywhere. Setting fires is already a crime.

Your mindset is why Democrats have only started winning in the west when candidates point out people thinking like you should be laughed at.

Twitter: @BobBrigham


[ Parent ]
Hello, wildfire! (0.00 / 0)
Ortcutt raised a good point. The wildfire risk is TOO GREAT for these consumer fireworks to be sold in such a fire-prone region that's dry enough to be set abalze by even a small firework going off path. And no, obviously setting a fire WITH ONE OF THESE FIREWORKS is not a crime in many California cities.

This isn't about "Libertarian Democrats" and "winning the West". This is about public safety. As much as I get your point, Bloggy, I have to agree with Robert and Ortcutt on this one. The danger's just too great to allow people to enjoy the "right to be utterly stupid and burn their neighbors' houses down".

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
Um... (0.00 / 0)
Should I listen to you, or these people:

National Fire Protection Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Association for Hand Surgery, American Association of Public Health Physicians, American Burn Association, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Center for Injury Research & Policy, Emergency Nurses Association, Fire Department Safety Officers Association, International Association of Arson Investigators, International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Fire Fighters, International Fire Marshals Association, Metropolitan Fire Chiefs, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, National Association of School Nurses, National Association of State Fire Marshals, National Volunteer Fire Council, and Prevent Blindness America

Those are the members of the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks.  You on the other hand are an ignorant tosser.

Your bullshit about Democrats and the West is just that.


[ Parent ]
I'm going with ortcutt here (8.00 / 1)
given our problems with fires in California, there is no reason for fireworks to be sold on the open market. I have no problems with commercial fireworks, but honestly this is an instance of danger that can spread to others. Unlike hunting, where the danger of the firearms is to your own stupid self and your spawn, fireworks have the danger of starting fires that spread to create harm for others.

If we can ban campfires during high-fire risk periods, why not just apply statewide controls on a similar standard. With the low rainfall totals last winter, now would be such an occasion. See Tahoe, Lake...

I think?


[ Parent ]
Yep, the risk is just too great... (0.00 / 0)
To just let someone be stupid. If it were just one stupid person harming him/herself, then I'd have no problem. But that's just it. These commercial fireworks don't just burn down the house of the stupid person setting them off. These fireworks burn down the entire neighborhood, and cause a massive inferno a la Lake Tahoe and Griffith Park and Windy Ridge.

Take a desert climate, add NO RAIN, stir in some record heat, dollop on some high pressure and ZERO HUMIDITY, and generously add readily available commercial fireworks and people who aren't trained in pyrotechnics. You have a complete recipe for disaster! I don't know if we can succeed in a statewide consumer fireworks ban, but perhaps it's worth a try IF (and that's a big IF!) the Legislature can get all those other important goals accomplished (like continuing the positive action on climate change, doing something meaningful on health care, and fending off Arnold's draconian cuts). And in the mean time, we should push those municipalities that haven't already banned commercial fireworks to do so. There's just no reason to leave any of our communities open to such danger.

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
BTW, Fireworks in the West (8.00 / 2)
Arizona is prohibits nearly all fireworks.  The only "fireworks" which are legal in Arizona are "novelties", like toy pistol caps and snappers.  Sparklers are prohibited in Arizona.

California, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado prohibit explosive, aerial, and ground-running fireworks.  They limit consumer fireworks to what are sometimes called "sane and safe" fireworks.

Nevada, Washington, Montana, Wyoming and New Mexico have lax or no consumer fireworks laws.


[ Parent ]
Arizona gets it... (0.00 / 0)
They know they're at risk, and they're doing something to protect the greater public. California needs to do the same with these commercial fireworks. If people want to see a fireworks show, then they can go to an official sanctioned event. Let the pyrotechnic specialists take care of it. The risk of blazing inferno is just too great.

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )

[ Parent ]
The importance of permitted events... (8.00 / 1)
isn't just having a licensed pyrotechnician, but also having local fire services review the plan, take preventative measures to limit the chance of fire, and be on hand to extinguish fires which do happen.  There are great fireworks displays in towns all over the place on July 4th.  No one is trying to get rid of fireworks.  But enjoying fireworks doesn't require lighting them yourselves.

[ Parent ]
Oh, absolutely! (0.00 / 0)
We need police and fire to review the fireworks show. We need to take proactive measures to reduce the risk. And yes, having local fire authorities be on the lookout in case anything goes wrong is ALWAYS a good idea!

Oh yes, none of us wants to get rid of fireworks completely. We just want to keep it smart, and keep it safe. That's why we should all leave it to the authorities, and just kick back and enjoy the show. : )

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
WA does have restrictions (8.00 / 2)
But there are more Native American reservations in WA, and they're nearer to major urban areas, so they sell whatever they please and the state/city restrictions are rendered somewhat moot.

And if Arizona, which is populated by "I'll do what I want" types, can see the sense in banning fireworks, surely CA can too.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave


[ Parent ]
Yup (0.00 / 0)
I have family right by the Muckeslshoot Reservation and there are fireworks stands everywhere.

[ Parent ]
So why can't we do that here? (0.00 / 0)
Arizona gets it. And so does Washington State (too bad about the reservations, though). So why can't California get it, too?

It's just too hot and too dry and just too dangerous to risk some stupid person doing some stupid thing with commercial fireworks that results in a whole lot of damage.

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
don't blame me (0.00 / 0)
Blame the people too dumb to use fireworks responsibly.

Banning fireworks has got to be the most worthless cause I've ever heard of.

I hope all smart western Democrats tell you to quit your whining.

Twitter: @BobBrigham


[ Parent ]
So more wildfires are AOK... (0.00 / 0)
Just as long as people with no pyrotechnical knowledge whatsoever can keep shooting fireworks and Democrats can look like "rugged individualists"? How the heck is that different from the DC Republican thinking that the only worthwhile "public policy" consists of camapaign gimmicks? Again, this isn't a game. This is about real lives lost and homes lost and livelihoods lost due to unnecessary fires. If people want to see fireworks, then they can go to the park like the rest of us and watch the official sanctioned display. The costs of lives lost and property damaged far outweighs the benefits of a cheap thrill of shooting off one's own fireworks.

Public policy really should be about what's best for people. It shouldn't just be about campaign grandstanding. Let's remember that.

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
i live next door to a fire station (0.00 / 0)
those guys are running sirens 24-7 every 4th of july dealing with firework-related burns, way, way more than the usual amount of fires. and once fires get going, they burn a hell of a lot of stuff. you have a right to pout yourself in danger, but not other people. fire is a serious matter out west, you should know that by now. especially in a drought year.

[ Parent ]
Oh, I thought it was snark. (8.00 / 1)
I didn't think anyone could actually say those things and believe them.

This is priceless

"Setting fires is already a crime".
Huh, so is killing people so why do we need speed limits or driving while drunk? Are those also nanny state laws?

[ Parent ]
So I guess drunk driving is AOK... (0.00 / 0)
According to those standards just so long as no one's killed. That's a good point, Ron. Drunk driving is dangerous behavior that doesn't just affect the driver, but also other people on the road who are at risk just because they happen to be driving on the same road as one reckless driver who had too much to drink. Some might consider anti-drunk driving laws to be "nanny state", but I consider them to be smart moves to protect the general public.

And when it comes to fireworks, it's the same argument. Setting off these commercial fireworks harms everyone living around the reckless person setting these fireballs off. Why should their homes be at risk just so that someone has the "right" to be stupid and reckless? That's not "nanny state". That's being safe and smart.

If someone wants fireowrks, he/she can go to the community show and watch the professionals do it. You're right, Ron. There's no need for these other dangerous devices to be sold on the street corners, only for untrained folks to set them off and ruin other people's lives.

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
So basically (0.00 / 0)
rather than hold people accountable for irresponsible behavior, people should simply not be permitted to behave in any manner whatsoever?

[ Parent ]
If there is fire danger, no (8.00 / 1)
IF the risk of fire is too great to make safe fireworks use possible, they shouldn't be allowed to use them. I'm not saying they should be banned completely, they just need to be sold on a basis that is tied to the inherent danger associated with them.

I think?

[ Parent ]
Absolutely (0.00 / 0)
The goal here is to prevent massive fires that burn down 300 homes and cause millions of dollars in damages. Prosecuting someone after the fact doesn't change what their carelessness wrought. In this dry weather, fireworks are a reckless frivolity that really is not needed. Many cities have canceled their own fireworks displays either to allow police to better patrol neighborhoods (as in Oakland) or to prevent fires (as in Burbank).

Given the dry conditions and this state's overall propensity to catch fire, it seems foolish to allow folks to set off fireworks. We didn't always celebrate the 4th with fireworks, and I think Californians would rather have a home than risk it with a one-night stand with some big booms and Lee Greenwood.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave


[ Parent ]
I might use my car recklessly (0.00 / 0)
Someday for some reason, purposely or not. Better not let me own it or drive it.

[ Parent ]
Wait... (8.00 / 1)
Are you comparing a car, which can be used for all sorts for useful and necessary tasks, and a sparkler or spark fountain, which is pretty much completely useless?

[ Parent ]
Good question... (0.00 / 0)
I'm wondering the same thing now. A car has a use as a means of transportation. The only real use of commercial fireworks is to have a good time. As I mentioned earlier, I think the better comparison to commercial fireworks are guns. Both can be used properly, but both can also be deadly if used improperly. Both need to be regulated stringently.

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )

[ Parent ]
Even more useless than guns (0.00 / 0)
Guns have sporting and personal protection uses.  A spark fountain?  Not so much.  Fireworks aren't just useless products, they are dangerous useless products.  10,000 people are injured badly enough to go to the emergency room every year because of fireworks.  Considering the very limited amount of time that people use fireworks every year (the 4th mainly), relative to time, they are very, very dangerous products.  I'm glad that California prohibits explosive and aerial consumer fireworks, but we really need to ask whether other fireworks really have a place either in such a fire-prone state.

[ Parent ]
Yes (0.00 / 0)
Because it isn't feasible to establish a standard of utility, somehow deciding what's useful and what isn't.  Yes, fireworks are a luxury item, but as mentioned elsewhere in this thread, a ban would establish a precedent without a standard.

Regardless of which, the motivating mindset remains the same.  That is, because people cannot be trusted to make responsible decisions, they must be prevented from making decisions.  I see no reason why this would be true with fireworks but not be true with anything else given the grave implications that you and others have set forth.  Given the presumption that people will behave recklessly and irresponsibly with fireworks, why would I possibly think that people could be trusted with a car?


[ Parent ]
Because they have a LICENSE! (0.00 / 0)
In order to drive a car, one must have a LICENSE. In order to own a handgun, one must have a LICENSE. And in order to obtain a LICENSE, one must go to proper training, file the appropriate paperwork, and pay all the necessary fees. As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., would say, that's the price of civilization.

Now with something as dangerous as fireworks, and in a place as dangerous as here, and at a time as dangerous as now, you're saying that we should just allow untrained individuals to just fire these things into the air willy-nilly, and leave open the possibility of the entire neighborhood burning down? Sorry, but I'd rather see my house stay standing.

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
So (0.00 / 0)
we're gonna roll with licensing as the standard? If you don't want to use a car as an example, fine.  I don't need a license or training to own a butcher knife, but I could sure do some damage if I use it to cut the wrong things.  You can keep getting bogged down in picking apart the comparisons if you want, but you continue to ignore the underlying issue, which is that people are being presumed to be inherently irresponsible and reckless.  If that is the case, then why would it only apply to fireworks?

[ Parent ]
The costs of requiring a license... (0.00 / 0)
for owning a butchers knife license outweigh the benefits.  In the case of fireworks, the benefits of licensing and permitting outweigh the costs.  I don't see how you think that we would be able to answer policy questions in isolation from questions of costs and benefits.

[ Parent ]
Candles (0.00 / 0)
are we banning them too? Completely frivolous firestarters.

[ Parent ]
Again, cost-benefit analysis... (0.00 / 0)
The benefit of light and good smell (if scented) outweighs the cost of risk of fire. And the cost of regulating candles far outweighs the benefit of regulation. Not so in the case of fireworks. Think economically. : )

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )

[ Parent ]
Extracting maximum benefits at least cost (0.00 / 0)
In fact, the National Association of State Fire Marshals has petitioned the Consumer Produce Safety Commission to require safer candles.  It's possible to have safer candles which are no different from the standpoint of the consumer.

http://www.firemarsh...

If you're really interested in the subject of fire prevention, you'll find that the nation's Fire Chiefs and Fire Marshals know a whole lot about how to reduce the risk of fire and thus reduce death, injury and property loss.


[ Parent ]
Being smart and safe... (0.00 / 0)
Means sensible regulation of potentially dangerous items. And when it comes to such dangerous items as fireworks, the smartest, safest, and most sensible regulation would be to designate specific locations for the display and having local authorities coordinate with the fire department to ensure the safest show possible. It maximizes the benefit of fireworks while minimizing the cost of damage. Perfect solution! : )

Oh yeah, and when it comes to fire safety, I'd trust our fire marshals over some fireworks salesperson off the street. : )

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
having actually seen several housefires, grassfires and a forest fire or two (0.00 / 0)
i can safely say that you could not do the same amount of damage in a lifetime with a kitchen knife as you can with setting a single fire when it's hot, dry and windy. not even close.

[ Parent ]
And while I'm at it (0.00 / 0)
If people are inherently incapable of handling fireworks, I'm pretty sure I don't want them voting.

[ Parent ]
Nonsense (8.00 / 1)

Because it isn't feasible to establish a standard of utility, somehow deciding what's useful and what isn't. 

Everyone, including our legislators, makes judgments of costs and benefits all the time.  That's an essential part of the policy-making process.


[ Parent ]
Cost-benefit analysis... (0.00 / 0)
I like that. Why can't we use these tools we learned in economics more often? In the case, the cost of losing lives and property is just too great to risk in order for one to gain the benefit of having a "good time". There. Case settled. No commercial fireworks sales.

(For such believers in "the free market", the Freepers really have no understanding of basic economics.) ; )

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
I love your ability (0.00 / 0)
to declare the beginning and end of a discussion.

[ Parent ]
Granted (0.00 / 0)
But are we seriously trying to encourage a government which, as its inherent function distrusts people's ability to behave responsibly?  Yes, part of government is to protect people from each other, and I don't dispute that necessary function.  However, the tone of this argument is the presumption that people are inherently dangerous.  That's the kind of mentality that has guided the Bush administration and I'm not a fan of it.

[ Parent ]
Define "too great" (0.00 / 0)
And then let's start talking about all the other things that pose a public threat when done or used recklessly but not banned.

[ Parent ]
Definition of "too great" (0.00 / 0)
http://www.usatoday....

We're not saying that ALL fireworks should be banned. We're just saying that as the temperature rises and the precipitation continues to be nonexistent, fireworks shows should be left to trained professionals and local authorities to handle. We don't need to increase the risk of wildfire just so that a few daring individulas can put on a show for the neighborhood (Whether we want it or not).

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
You know what I've noticed? (8.00 / 1)
Banning things legally or morally, thus driving them underground, has really worked out well in this country. For example, the war on drugs has eliminated marijuana, cocaine, meth, and heroin use and abstinence-only programs have completely stopped teenagers from having sex.

But maybe my snark is misplaced, since we didn't add the proviso that trained professionals would handle all the drug use and teenage sex.


[ Parent ]
There's a HUGE difference there... (0.00 / 0)
Someone smoking a joint is a personal matter. If my cousin smokes his weed out back while Grandma and I are in the house, it doesn't affect me and Grandma. If he has sex with the next-door neighbor, it doesn't affect us (though I'd still disapprove of it, as he'd be cheating on his girlfriend... But whatever, that shouldn't be law). However if he fires off some contraband fireworks and those don't work "as planned", the entire neighborhood may burn down. That affects ALL OF US in the community!

If anything, fireworks are more like guns. If they're out of the hands of people with proper training, things can go HORRIBLY wrong. That's why we require licenses in California for firearms, and that's why certain assault weapons are BANNED in this state. It's for the greater good.

That's the key here. Individual rights are important, yes. Sometimes, they just need to be balanced with the greater good, with what's best for the community. I like John Locke's principle that we should be free to exercise our rights so long as we're not infringing on others' rights. That's why these fireworks need to be left to the professionals and to the authorities. Our right to a safe house shouldn't be violated by my cousin's "right" to shoot off contraband fireworks.

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
and yet (0.00 / 0)
the argument for restricting drugs and sex is that they pose a threat to the collective good if people are allowed to do such things.  The issue here is the motivation, and the motivation throughout is centered around the belief that people are inherently too reckless to be trusted to do anything.  If that's the road we're on, I'll get out here thanks.

[ Parent ]
Again, individual good vs. greater good... (0.00 / 0)
There needs to be a balance here. Yes, the right-wing wackos do make a claim that what we do inside our houses is a "greater good" issue. THEY'RE WRONG! However, the libertarians get it completely wrong when they claim that assault weapons should be available to everyone and that government has no business regulating corporations whatsoever. They're completely ignoring the greater good. THEY'RE WRONG, TOO!

There needs to be a balance here. And right now considering all the risks of someone who knows nothing about pyrotechnics setting off a potentially dangerous weapon, I don't see why these things should be sold on my street corner. Sure, we're not all too reckless to do anything. However, we'd be engaging in reckless behavior by setting off these fireworks in the midst of this continuing drought that's worsened by a record heatwave.

Sorry, but the greater good of the community's safety shouldn't be risked just so that one person can exercise his/her "right" to set the whole town on fire.

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
Stalin was all about the greater good too (0.00 / 0)
"Greater good" means a lot of different things depending on the mouth it tumbles out of.  I certainly believe that the government should have an active role in guiding citizens towards acting in the public interest.  However, I don't think you achieve that by removing civic responsibility or even removing the conscious step to behave responsibly.  For example, building codes impose restrictions but don't restrict people from constructing buildings.  Drinking and driving is illegal but neither drinking nor driving is.  If folks would like to set up enforceable guidelines as to the proper use of fireworks, that's fine.  But that's very different than simply removing the option of responsible citizenship, regardless of the contextual issue at hand.

[ Parent ]
So I can have an AK-47? (0.00 / 0)
I don't intend to kill anyone. I just want an AK-47 so I can feel like a real man. Why can't I have an AK-47? Maybe because such huge assault weapons should stay in the hands of trained professionals in the military?!

So how are fireworks different from guns in that both can be VERY dangerous in the hands of untrained individuals who don't have any use for these large objects? All I'm doing is asking for enforceable guidelines for the proper use of fireworks. That's why I'm saying that local authorities and trained professionals ahould be the ones putting on the show for all of us untrained folks to enjoy. They can coordinate with the fire department to ensure that everyone's ready in case something goes wrong. Individuals don't have that type of expertise, and things can go terribly wrong if these fireworks are in the wrong hands.

I don't think banning individual fireworks sales is "Stalinesque". If that's the case, then I guess banning assault weapons is also "totalitarian". Cheese louise, when did common-sense public safety measures become so evil and "nanny state" like?

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
Didn't say it was Stalinesque (0.00 / 0)
I was simply pointing out that "greater good" is an arbitrary and subjective declaration when you get down to it.

Any number of things are dangerous if people use them improperly, but that doesn't mean that you ban their use.  I also think there's an unnecessary leap from enforceable regulations to only trained professionals.


[ Parent ]
Huh? (8.00 / 2)
Fireworks are a one-day-a-year thing, whether that day is Independence Day or Chinese New Year. CA has had significant restrictions on the sale and use of fireworks since I was a kid in the '80s and yet there isn't widespread underground market in them. Surely it exists - there was a raid on a home in the East Bay a week or two back that was selling them out of a garage, and I'm sure folks still bring them back from Mexico - but banning fireworks succeeds in drastically cutting back on their availability and sale.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

[ Parent ]
Again (0.00 / 0)
what is the standard being established here? Nobody seems concerned about precedent.  My beef here is not remotely about fireworks themselves, but rather about the sentiment that people are inherently irresponsible.

[ Parent ]
That's not my premise (8.00 / 1)
My premise is that even someone being "responsible" can have an accident, or that a firework can spark uncontrollably, set off some nearby brush, and before you know it you've got a firestorm.

We ban plenty of things in the name of public safety. So long as these aren't arbitrarily done, but are consistent and logical, I'm for it. It's hard, if not impossible, to come up with a one-size-fits-all standard to use for every kind of behavior. But if we're talking about behavior that recklessly endangers other people, I see no reason to tolerate it.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave


[ Parent ]
Again (0.00 / 0)
lots of things cause big problems when there's an accident that aren't banned. No matter how logical this particular case may be, I don't see how it could possibly not be considered arbitrary since there isn't a move afoot to ban every superfluous item that could cause harm.

[ Parent ]
incidentally (0.00 / 0)
where's the definition of "too great?" It's easy to say that it's currently too dry, but that establishes a precedent without a standard.  How's that usually worked out the past few years in government?

[ Parent ]
In a dry year like this (8.00 / 2)
Yeah, I think hundreds of homes destroyed and millions in costs surely counts as "too great."

Why don't we turn this discussion around? Why should we allow people to endanger public safety by using fireworks near fireprone areas? If we're worried about a slippery slope, why ban drunken driving or leaded gas or speeding? What do you see as the minimum threshold for restricting public behavior?

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave


[ Parent ]
Why leave parks open at all? (0.00 / 0)
People always seem to start fires. Don't let them into the woods.

[ Parent ]
Come on, now... (0.00 / 0)
That's just being ridiculous. And after all, fires are only to be started IN DESIGNATED LOCATIONS. We're asking the same thing with fireworks. Only in designated locations, and in areas that can be supervised. That's not being mean, and that's not trampling on civil liberties. That's just common-sense wildfire prevention.

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )

[ Parent ]
Doesn't work (0.00 / 0)
Fires keep starting. The greater good is at stake.

[ Parent ]
They do ban campfires (8.00 / 2)
There are frequent "burn bans" when there are hazardous conditions, both in national forests and in entire counties. Some national forests have been entirely closed when folks refused to respect those bans. They're not permanent bans and nor do they need to be - they're put in place when conditions warrant.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

[ Parent ]
And yet (0.00 / 0)
people continue to be reckless.  In anticipation of potential problems, remove the possibility.

[ Parent ]
Humans are fallible (0.00 / 0)
And there'll always be recklessness. But we do what we can to cut down on it, and when there are obvious things we can do that do not cost us rights or freedoms, why not do it?

Why should we allow people to play with fireworks near a hillside full of dead vegetation? How does that make any sense?

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave


[ Parent ]
I live in an apartment (0.00 / 0)
Why should I be allowed to burn a candle when it could burn the whole complex down?

[ Parent ]
I've checked my copy of the Constitution... (0.00 / 0)
and there is no Right to Use a Spark Fountain, unless that's a new amendment that I missed.  So, if it isn't a question of rights, then it's a question of costs and benefits.  I have yet to see anyone here make an argument that July 4th celebrations will be any less enjoyable if sparklers and spark fountains are prohibited.  On the other hand, the benefits of prohibiting these products in terms of decreased risk of injury, wildfire and structure fire is real.  The benefits in terms of lower police and firefighter overtime are also real.

[ Parent ]
That does make no sense... (0.00 / 0)
That is, it makes no sense to let people fire off dangerous explosives on dry hillsides with just the right fuel for a big fire (the dry brush). And again, let's apply cost-benefit analysis here (thanks, ortcutt!). The benefit of firing these dangerous fireworks doesn't meet the cost of lost lives and property. I say let's keep folks safe and leave the fireworks to the professionals. : )

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )

[ Parent ]
Arguing against someone's... (0.00 / 0)
ideology is futile.

[ Parent ]
In fact (8.00 / 1)
communities in a half-dozen states, including California, are banning public fireworks displays on the Fourth of July for just this reason; drought-like conditions simply make them too dangerous. 

“From a fire standpoint and a safety standpoint, it was an easy call,” Burbank Fire Chief Tracy Pansini says. He recommended calling off fireworks at the Starlight Bowl because they’re launched from a mountainside covered with vegetation that’s “all dead.”

I'm fairly agnostic on this question, but I would say that if you do choose to set off some 'splosions, have a fire extinguisher or a hose handy.  And don't launch anything you can't easily find.


[ Parent ]
hold people accountable (0.00 / 0)
For their behavior, not tactics.

Twitter: @BobBrigham

[ Parent ]
um, because we love to blow shit up? (0.00 / 0)
seriously, though, fireworks were banned here in davis back when i was a kid, although they're legal in most neighboring cities, so it doesn't really have much of an effect. given the tinder-dry state of the state, it does seem exceptionally dumb to allow fire hazards like that.

[ Parent ]
Alright, look. I don't care about fireworks (0.00 / 0)
I've never cared for or about them, I wouldn't miss them.

My point is simply this: At the heart of this argument is not fireworks themselves, but the human behavior involved.  It is the assertation that people cannot safely or responsibly use fireworks.  While the ultimate impact may be altered because of the item involved, the problem is human behavior.  So if people are inherently incapable of responsibly using fireworks, why would that not apply to everything else?  The fireworks don't make people any more or less reckless or irresponsible (people aren't irresponsible or reckless BECAUSE they have fireworks), but rather magnify the consequences.  Yes, if I'm holding a post-it note, probably the possible damage done by using it irresponsibly is absurdly minute.  But why wouldn't the same inherent lack of capacity for responsibility still apply?  And if it does apply, why would that not translate into a perpetual expectation of improper, or at least unproductive, behavior from all people?


Because of cost-benefit analysis... (8.00 / 1)
Again, what's the cost of regulating the dangers of post-it notes? Kitchen knives? Fireworks? And what are the benefits? Let's think about it. Post-it notes are innocuous. Kitchen knives can be dangerous in the wrong hands, but the cost of heavy regulation is way too high to be of real use. Now fireworks can be very dangerous as they can cause wildfires if misused, and there are sensible regulations that can be implemented... You know, like designating spots where people can see them and do so safely. I think this is a good way to maximize the benefits of fireworks while minimize the cost of lost lives and property.

Should people be trusted? Yes, but within reasonable limits. Mistakes happen. People aren't infallible. And I think the solution we reached recognizes people's right to fireworks while also using proper safety percautions to ensure that our good times don't untimately cause a lot of pain and suffering.

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
Not exactly (0.00 / 0)

It is the assertation that people cannot safely or responsibly use fireworks.

I don't know of anyone who claims that.

Public policy on fireworks is certainly something that California has thought about before.  When legislators prohibited explosive and aerial fireworks (which it is unbelievable to say are still legal in many states), they prohibited the most dangerous fireworks while not prohibiting the less dangerous so-called "safe and sane fireworks".  They made an estimate of what the costs and benefits were of different regulations and what was politically palatable at the time.  Decades later, we should have a rethink about whether they didn't go far enough and whether prohibiting fireworks altogether (or like Arizona only allowing novelty items like "snappers") wouldn't have greater net benefit.  The Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks, which consists of 22 Public Health and Fire Prevention organizations, has called for a ban on consumer fireworks.  These are the people on the front lines of dealing with the results of fireworks.  They present a lot of information to back their position.  I think it's deserves careful and serious consideration.  Unfortunately, even in bone dry years like this one, it's not even something that is being discussed by anyone other than fire officials.

http://www.nfpa.org/...

http://www.nfpa.org/...


[ Parent ]
my suggestion to all Dem candidates in the world (0.00 / 0)
Is to do the exact opposite that you suggest.

Twitter: @BobBrigham

[ Parent ]
This isn't a game... (0.00 / 0)
And it isn't some gimmick to win an election. This is about public safety. This is about preventing unnecessary loss of life and property. I'm sorry, but when it comes to protecting the public interest, I'll take the advice of someone with experience in public safety over a campaign strategist.

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )

[ Parent ]
politics vs. policy, n/t (0.00 / 0)


I think?

[ Parent ]
You got it! (0.00 / 0)
Now the two are joined at the hip, so there's not a good way to separate the two. The two are interdependent upon each other. However, we sometimes need to remind ourselves that the two are not exactly interchangeable. Good politics doesn't always make good policy, and vice versa.

Now sometimes we have to set some good policy aside in order to win on the politics. But whenever we can, we should aspire to make good policy the priority. We should aim to always do what's best for the people, even if it may not be best for the next election.

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
firing off fireworks (0.00 / 0)
when things are tinder-dry is in itself irresponsible, and the potential for causing serious hazards to life and property are very real. we lose houses from errant fireworks every year out here, and in a drought year like this the danger is so high for catastrophic fire that it makes sense to crank the restrictions  tighter, to lessen the likelihood of major fires.

having big-assed bonfires during fire season is rightly illegal. setting campfires in restricted forests during a drought is rightly illegal. we don't restrict these behaviors because of any stalinist obsession with controlling people, we do it because the alternative has been proven to cause far more trouble, death, destruction than it is worth.

fire is deadly serious in this state. maybe it doesn't seem that way down in san diego, but once you've seen a catastrophic fire rip through a neighborhood or burn down a forest, your perspective changes.

when your behavior has the potential to threaten thousands of other people, it ceases to be only a question of individual liberty.


[ Parent ]
now, now (0.00 / 0)
San Diego as a whole is well aware of the damage that can be done by a large and out of control fire. 2003 wasn't that long ago. My lungs haven't been the same since.

I understand Lucas's point, but I think the right to buy fireworks would be a lousy test case for personal freedom.


[ Parent ]
We're all aware of the danger... (0.00 / 0)
Here in Orange Countym and down in San Diego, and up in Los Angeles, and out in the Inland Empire. We know the danger of wildfires in Southern California. We know that the potential cost of lost lives and lost property is just too great to risk to achieve the benefit of a handful of people getting a cheap thrill off of contraband fireworks. That's why allowing these dangerous fireworks to be sold to the public isn't worth it.

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )

[ Parent ]
Yep, there need to balance... (0.00 / 0)
"individual liberty" with the common good of the community. One person might get a thrill from being irresponsible in firing off fireworks during a dry heatwave. However, that person's neighbors might not get a thrill out of seeing their houses burn down from those fireworks landing on their roofs. What about their right to keep safe?

You're right, wu ming. One indivifual's rights end where they infringe upon someone else's rights. Let's keep that in perspective.

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )


[ Parent ]
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