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Saturday, October 27, 2007

County size in California vs. South Carolina

A little geography, gentle reader.

Much has been made of the recent fires in San Diego County and other California counties, and I certainly have no desire to complain about such coverage -- we have family members living there. However, perhaps some South Carolina readers, and other readers from the eastern US, may not realize that counties are not the same sorts of things in all parts of the US.

San Diego County
has a large geographic area, namely 4,526 square miles/11,721 square kilometers. In contrast, the combined area of Pickens, Oconee, Greenville, Laurens, Abbeville, Greenwood, and Anderson counties of South Carolina is 4,436 square miles. San Diego County is not the largest county in the US, or in California. Counties in the western US tend to be larger. Although the population of San Diego County is nearly 3,000,000, which is the third largest population of any county in the US, much of the large area is relatively unpopulated. Many of the fires in that county are in such relatively unpopulated areas.

Some are warning that development of such areas is asking for trouble -- fires have apparently been part of the chaparral ecosystem for a long time, and the recently developed areas, left to themselves, would mostly be chaparral.

Just as the southeastern part of the US is subject to coastal hurricanes, and some parts of the US are at risk for earthquakes, some of the US is at risk for wildfires. There doesn't seem to be much that we can do about this. We live in a fallen world, and we humans are in tension with the communities where we live and move, and this tension will, if anything, become larger as we expect to own more and more possessions, and as there are more and more of us.

God help us all!

Thanks for reading.

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