Re-designing our Urban Landscape

Opinion by Bob Chianese

Monster hurricanes, floods, rising sea levels, and frozen cities and our own drought-fueled mega-fires and debris flows tell us things are out of balance on planet Earth. Our human-made shroud of carbon dioxide warms the atmosphere to the point of disturbing global weather patterns, wind circulation, temperatures, and of course rainfall.

In Southern California, our once lovely environment has turned on us. Our seeming paradise has become a tender trap, lulling us into complacency and the expectation of endless sun-kissed balmy days. Since our rapacious fires have become more common, we may have to agree with our Governor that they may be our “New Normal.”

What can we do to curb and adapt to some of this extravagant weather?

Obviously as a society we need to switch from fossil fuel burning to solar energy, drive hybrids and EV’s, conserve water, reduce if not restrict new development, have fewer babies, use native, water-stingy plants for landscaping, and cut back on consumption in general. Tall orders I know, but some of us are trying to follow them.

Locally we might consider fire prevention measures to guard our own and our neighbors’ property. We can remove brush, dead trees, and tall vegetation under power lines. We can transform our yards into native plant and xeriscape gardens.

And then there are the palms and eucalyptus.

These non-native invaders were brought here mainly for their looks: the spindly towering palm signals the tropics, and the massive eucalyptus evokes warm stately days in the sun. But palms are dirty, throw off serrated fronds and shelter rats. Eucalyptus were lousy as sources of lumber and grow to gigantic size, with a deep pile of combustible debris at their base. They both ought to go.

The Thomas fire revealed what fire-spreading torches they are: palms spit off burning embers from their heights and eucs can explode as oil-saturated bombs. Our urban forest needs a makeover that makes us more secure and more “natural.” Taking personal initiative to remove these two kinds of trees from our property would enable us to be less panicked when the sirens blare again.

The city will have to decide that to do with the thousands of others.

And removing palms would greatly improve my view so off with their heads. Sheldon

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