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Buried away in section B of the Chron, after weeks of front page headlines, was the news that the three big fires in California have much quieted.

The Butte fire which threatened Paradise and pushed 6,500 out of their homes has retreated and the people allowed to return. The Big Basin fire in Big Sur is retreated to higher hills after threatening just about everything. Highway One is re-opened. The Tassajara Zen retreat barely escaped with just four out-buildings burned. The Goleta fire has been 80% contained with a few evacuation warnings still in effect.

With all the other chaos in the air, from collapsing mega-banks to agony in Iraq and Afghanistan it’s unlikely that the lessons of these fires will be burned into our collective consciousness. Except for those who were directly affected they will be lost in hazy memory by August. Too bad. As the Continental Army died by the thousands in New York during the summer of 1776, Washington, Greene and others could read the signs: cleanliness, cleanliness, cleanliness was the order of the day. Without it, the Republic would be lost. We might use the same: clean the air, clean the air, clean the air — of all sorts of impurities but above all CO2, should be the morning motto of everyone who loves the world.

Stiff punishments were handed out for shitting in the trenches. We should do the same.