[Peter Brimelow writes: I first met Linda Thom in 1996 at a meeting organized after the publication of Alien Nation by immigration reform patriots in Santa Barbara. Recently, Lydia and I had dinner there with Diana Hull of Californians for Population Stabilization. I first saw California in 1970, when my twin brother and I arrived from England to attend Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Perhaps it takes an immigrant to appreciate what a paradise Americans created in California—and to say bluntly that there should be treason trials for what is now being done to it.]
[Previously By Linda Thom: The Adhahn Atrocity: Another Enforcement (And MSM) Failure]
In Santa Barbara, California, on June 27, 1990, I left my office just after five o'clock to go to a nearby building for labor negotiations. The Santa Ana winds blew so strongly that I could not stand straight. And it was hot—over 100 degrees.
I checked the sky for smoke and saw none. Earlier in the day, the county transfer-station (a.k.a. dump) caught on fire. My boss, the County Administrator, told staff to stay alert because we might have to go to emergency operations.
As I lived in a high-fire-danger area in the foothills west of Santa Barbara, I was a bit concerned about being behind closed doors in negotiations. Seeing no smoke, I thought that I would simply check on things during breaks.
The county negotiators and the S.E.I.U team began talks about 5:30 and at 6:30 we broke for a caucus. I went to the window. I looked west and saw a roaring fire and billowing, black smoke. I told the management team that I had to leave for home.
But I did not get home that night.
The fire started at 6:02 pm in the mountains west of Santa Barbara. The wind blew so intensely that flames jumped the six lanes of Highway 101. In less than half an hour, the roaring fire blazed five miles from the mountains to the Pacific Ocean.
I did not know that, so I tried all the roads I knew that crossed town. I finally realized that all roads west and north from Santa Barbara were cut off. I checked into a motel in downtown.
I tried to call home, but the phones did not work. I turned on the television and but could only get a fuzzy signal from the local station, KEYT. The map of the fire area showed my neighborhood aflame. The fire burned this memory into my brain: terror for my husband and children.
At 11:30 that night, I finally reached my husband, Rich, by phone. He and the children had been terrified about my safety. But we were all safe. Rich said that the cars were packed and ready to go if they had to flee.
The next morning I drove home through what looked like a moonscape. [Photos.] I cleaned up and packed a few things and returned to work for emergency duties.
In the afternoon, I received a call from the command center from a co-worker who told me to go home and evacuate. The winds had pushed the fire to within half a mile of my house.
My family evacuated to the home of my in-laws. Rob, our son, took his teddy bear and Beth, our daughter, took her stereo.
When fire fighters finally contained the Painted Cave Fire, 5,000 acres and 500 structures were destroyed.
A month after the fire started, Time Magazine wrote that
"Fire fighters are becoming increasingly concerned about places like Santa Barbara, Calif., where residential areas are encroaching on wilderness." [Fire At El Capitan, by Michael D. Lemonick, August 27, 1990]
My husband and I still own the house in Santa Barbara but we rent it out. When we bought it in 1975, we worried about earthquakes, as it lies near a fault. We worried about floods, as the house backs on a creek that only fills in the winter when water pours down from the mountains above.
We did not experience flood conditions but the house was on the high side of the creek. We did experience earthquakes but in the worst quake, a toilet tank lid flew off and broke. The cars bounced and bottomed out on the garage floor.
But as for fires, we had none until 1990.
We did replace the wood-shake roof with fire-retardant tiles and cut back the over-hanging sycamores. Nevertheless, if fire rolls down the mountain in a fury, the house is a goner.
Truth is, houses should not be built in the foothills in desert-like areas of California.
But all the build able flat lands in coastal areas are gone to concrete.
And fires are not the only problem. Beth, my daughter, now has a family of her own and lives in Sacramento, half a block from a levee. The water got very close to the bank top in the last heavy rains a year ago. An elementary school sits three houses over and across the street. Unfortunately, the folks in Sacramento are only now starting to worry about the safety of the levee system.
The late ecologist, Garrett Hardin wrote in a 1971 essay that "nobody ever dies of overpopulation." That is, the media never report that they died of overpopulation. Reports come that the monsoon rains killed hundreds in Bangladesh or that fires killed a dozen in California. No one ever says that if there were fewer people, folks would not be living in harm's way.
Anyone who has lived in California for long time remembers when Orange County actually had orange trees. I remember when the area west of Santa Barbara in the Goleta Valley contained lemon and avocado groves.
Why? Because California is over-populated—and getting worse by the year. The incoming millions must have some place to live.
In the Sixties, when my husband and I moved to California, the population stood at 16 million. In 1980, 24 million folks lived there and in 2000, U.S. Census data show the resident population at 34 million. Currently, 37 million people reside in the state. That makes California's population larger than that of Canada.
Those who follow the trends know that California owes its burgeoning population to immigration. Californians for Population Stabilization published a report about the growth in the 1990's. All of the growth resulted from immigration.
Nothing has changed. In Components of Population Change for the United States and States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2005, [PDF] the Census Bureau reports that 1,415,879 immigrants moved into California and 664,460 Californians moved out of the state in that period.
Since 1990, an average of 45 percent of the annual births in California are to immigrants. According to the Census Bureau, the state with the next highest immigrant influx is New York. One million residents moved out of the state and 667,000 immigrants moved in between 2000 and 2005.
Florida gained one million residents from internal migration and half a million from immigration. Where will Florida get the fresh water to keep the taps flowing? Not upriver from Georgia. Georgia has a water shortage or—in the words of Garrett Hardin—is it a people longage?
Some may think the glass is half empty. But perhaps the glass is half full. Busy Americans do not respond to floods in Bangladesh. But they do respond to problems that affect their lives.
We in the patriotic immigration reform movement must connect the dots for Americans.
The mainstream media will report that we have a water shortage. They will not report that we have an immigration longage.
Linda Thom [email her] is a retiree and refugee from California. She formerly worked as an officer for a major bank and as a budget analyst for the County Administrator of Santa Barbara.