No 519 Posted by fw, July 7, 2012
“I think an event like this can start to wake people up. We expect, given climate change that is happening now and will continue to happen that there will be more droughts. That’s going to lead to more fires. It usually takes people experiencing something first-hand in order to get them to change.” —Jim Ebersole, Ecologist
This post, a personal narrative capturing in words and images, the reaction of Hani Ahmad and his daughter Marlee as they return for a first-hand look at the burned-out remains of their house in Mountain Shadows, Colorado Springs.
Marlee’s cell-phone video footage and Hani’s story was published on July 5, 2012 by Climate Desk, and is featured here in this embedded YouTube video. I prepared the accompanying transcript.
Hani — Holy Shit!
***** Hani Ahmad and his family lived in Mountain Shadows, Colorado Springs for 24 years. His daughter Marlee, 25, shot this footage. *****
Hani — Oh my God! I guess I wasn’t quite prepared for this (chuckles).
Marlee – Could you ever be prepared? This was once 2561 (street address?).
***** The Waldo Canyon Fire was the most destructive in Colorado history. 18,000 acres burned. 346 homes destroyed. *****
Hani — I got a call from a next door neighbor saying that glass is breaking and we’re not going to make it.
Marlee — There’s the basement.
Hani — Two floors into the basement, in this hole in the ground. I haven’t cried yet even though I saw the house — what’s left of it, which is nothing.
Marlee – There’s where the kitchen was. The cul-de-sac and Zack’s car, mom’s car. Our neighborhood.
Hani — It’s really hard not to think of the 23 years that were lost in that house, and whew… (on the verge of tears)
***** As the dust settles, Hani is looking to climate change for answers *****
Hani — It bothers me that people say this is junk science. I’m convinced that this planet is warming and this is part of the result of that. The west is a tinderbox, and it’s so early in the season. I’m terrified for everybody in the west. If this doesn’t tell us that now is the time for the debate I guess nothing will.
***** AT the fire’s peak, Colorado Springs hits its all-time temperature high of 101degrees F. One of 23 heat records broken across the state that day. *****
Jim Ebersole, Ecologist, Colorado Collage — Lots of factors need to come together to create a big fire like this one. This is one of those very, very dry years. The snow pack was really low. So that means that the fuels dry out really quickly in the spring and then fire season is much, much longer than it used to be. I think an event like this can start to wake people up. We expect, given climate change that is happening now and will continue to happen that there will be more droughts. That’s going to lead to more fires. It usually takes people experiencing something first-hand in order to get them to change. I hope that changes soon.
***** Climatologists predict by the century’s end, 80 percent of the globe will experience altered wildfire paters due to climate change. In North America, drought and higher temperatures are expected to fuel more frequent and severe fires. *****
The city’s top fire official isn’t convinced
Rich Brown, Colorado Springs Fire Chief — That is certainly something that a lot of people have been debating for a long time – climate change. What we just dealt with is the greatest high-risk, low-frequency event you could ever respond to. That’s what we just dealt with. You can’t staff up to fight something like that. It’s just too expensive.
Reporter — If the science does say – and plenty of evidentiary science says that these are going to be more frequent, more severe — what’s your case to local authorities to say we need more people, we need more money.
Brown – (Shaking his head) I wouldn’t make one. I just wouldn’t make one — just because it’s getting warmer doesn’t mean that there’s going to be a fire.
Post-Fire Press Conference
Reporter — Is America prepared for climate change and its effects going into the future?
Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security – We are seeing the changing weather patterns. We’re seeing it right now with what has already been a very difficult summer.
Reporter – Is it climate change, secretary?
Sec. Napolitano – You have to look at climate change over a period of years not just one summer. You could always have one abnormal summer. But when you see one after another, after another you can see, yeah, there’s a pattern here.
Marlee – Bye guys. Thank you.
Hani — I’m still drawn there. It’s still unreal. Like it’s…my house is going to be standing… Plan in a way that is consistent with good science.
Marlee – And we will rebuild.
Hani — That sounds clichéd. And yet, if we don’t, well…