Letters to the Editor: Maui fires are a warning to California: Expand urban solar now

Destroyed homes and businesses are seen near Lahaina's waterfront on the island of Maui on Aug. 10.
(Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images)

To the editor: Thanks to The Times for highlighting the many strategies for saving people once fiery disasters have started. California could learn some lessons about how to stop these disasters in the first place.

California is crisscrossed by power transmission lines that carry electricity over the mountains and through the forests from as far away as Nevada. It’s impossible to bury all of them.

Meanwhile, our cities, which consume most of the electricity, still lack widespread rooftop solar. Where are the solar panels on our schools, our warehouses, our parking lots, our stadiums, our big-box stores, our government buildings, you name it?


The beauty of rooftop solar is that electricity is used at the point of generation. With backup batteries, no long-distance transmission lines are needed.

Hawaii and California are both bathed in sunlight. It’s a crying shame that Lahaina had not gone completely solar years ago. Let that be the lesson for our Golden State.

Sarah Starr, Los Angeles


To the editor: News stories have referred to the Maui fires as a “natural disaster,” a product of climate change.

There was nothing “natural” in the years of ecological and environmental degradation inflicted on the Hawaiian islands through years of colonial expansion and deforestation, agricultural change and development. Island-sustaining ecosystems have been destroyed and replaced with geographical wind ramps and vast flammable nonnative grasslands.

The latest International Panel on Climate Change Synthesis Report links the impacts of colonial action to environmental damage leading to worsening climate change. Today’s continuing colonial mentality of unchecked resource use won’t yield a different outcome.


If the causes of Maui’s destruction were in any way “natural,” let’s look to human nature.

Jorge Fulco, Santa Barbara


To the editor: I’m always baffled that even now, after decades of research and spot-on data projections, there are people who can’t recognize extreme floods and fires as our fault.

Over the years the media have published lists of places you can move to to escape climate change. The space race is about learning how to live in previously uninhabitable environments. The irony is that every technological advancement has come at the cost of our Goldilocks home.

Cryptocurrency is energy intensive. So is artificial intelligence. Yet we still haven’t kicked our fossil-fuel energy addiction.

Instead of preserving the delicate balance of Earth’s systems by pricing the cost of carbon upfront, we chose to burn down the banyan tree, put human lives in harm’s way and cry about it after the fact. If that weren’t the case, we’d have had a carbon tax by now.


Pam Brennan, Newport Beach