Posts Tagged ‘forest fires’

Stupid and Deadly: America’s Wildfire Policy

October 8, 2019

Stupid and Deadly: America's Wildfire Policy

Forest policy, climate change, and real estate development combine to create deadly fires.

“Today’s monster fires result largely from three human forces: taxpayer-funded fire suppression that has made the forest a tinderbox; policies that encourage construction in places that are clearly prone to burning; and climate change, which has worsened everything.”

“Society masks the costs of building on the edges of the forest, a zone that planners call the “wildland-urban interface,” or the WUI. With its vast forests and penchant for sprawl, California is the epicenter of WUI wildfire damage. Between 2000 and 2013, fire destroyed more buildings in California’s WUI than in all similar areas in the United States combined, and more than 75 percent of all buildings destroyed by fire in California were in the WUI, according to a University of Wisconsin–Madison study.”

— “Burn. Build. Repeat: Why Our Wildfire Policy Is So Deadly.” Jeffrey Ball, Mother Jones

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Top image (“Smokey Says ‘Let It Burn’”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Happy Birthday Smokey Bear

August 9, 2019

Happy Birthday Smokey Bear

“Smokey Bear, the U.S. Forest Service’s symbol of fire prevention, turns 75 on Friday. Smokey is the longest-running public service ad campaign, first appearing on a poster on Aug. 9, 1944.”

— “Careful With Those Birthday Candles, Smokey: Beloved Bear Turns 75,” Brian Naylor, NPR News

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here.Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Hotshot Crew 61

October 24, 2017

Lori Light found the firefighters of Samoa’s Hotshot Crew 61 on the job in Trinity County, California. They’re singing Fa’afetai i le Atua (“Thanks to God”) to the tune Charles Crozat Converse composed for “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” The crew is battling the Helena-Fork Fire on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in northwest California. Crewmembers work for the National Park of American Samoa.

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Wildfire: Let It Burn

August 11, 2017

Wildfire: Let It Burn

“Scientists at the cutting edge of ecological research … argue that the century-old American practice of suppressing wildfires has been nothing less than a calamity. They are calling for a new approach that basically involves letting backcountry fires burn across millions of acres.

In principle, the federal government accepted a version of this argument years ago, but in practice, fires are still routinely stamped out across much of the country. To the biologists, that has imperiled the plants and animals — hundreds of them, it turns out — that prefer to live in recently burned forests.”

“Scientists are still trying to figure out how regularly forests burned in what is now the United States in the centuries before European settlement, but reams of evidence suggest the acreage that burned was more than is allowed to burn today — possibly 20 million or 30 million acres in a typical year. Today, closer to four million or five million acres burn every year.

‘From an ecological standpoint, everything I’ve learned teaches me this is a good idea: Stop putting out fires,’ said Jennifer R. Marlon, a geographer at Yale who was among the first to use the term “fire deficit” to describe the situation. ‘These forests are made to have fire.’

Human lives are at stake, too. Firefighters die, more than a dozen in some years, putting out fires that many scientists think should be allowed to burn.”

— Let Forest Fires Burn? What the Black-Backed Woodpecker Knows,” Justin Gillis, New York Times

More:

“The Future of Fighting Wildfires in the Era of Climate Change,” Bob Berwyn, Pacific Standard

“Benefits of Fire,” SmokeyBear.com

“Adapt to more wildfire in western North American forests as climate changes,” Tania Schoennagela, Jennifer K. Balcha, Hannah Brenkert-Smith et al., PNAS

“Fire Ecology,” Pacific Biodiversity Institute

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Short link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-qk7

Top image (“Smokey Says ‘Let It Burn'”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Wildfire Strategy: Let It Burn

July 14, 2017

Wildfire Strategy

Every year since the dawn of time, the Santa Ana winds lash Southern California’s dry autumn brushlands into explosive, blazing infernos. Every year since the dawn of the last century, Southern Californians express surprise as they are engulfed in a sea of flame. With climate change, things won’t get better.

“We will never be able to control wildfire,” explains Tania Schoennagel of the Institute for Alpine and Arctic Research, “We have to learn to live with it and adapt, just like we do with droughts and flooding. Our current wildfire policies can’t protect people and homes.”

More:

“The Future of Fighting Wildfires in the Era of Climate Change,” Bob Berwyn, Pacific Standard

“Adapt to more wildfire in western North American forests as climate changes,” Tania Schoennagela, Jennifer K. Balcha, Hannah Brenkert-Smith et al., PNAS

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Short Link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-pC2

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com.

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Happy Birthday, Smokey

August 11, 2013

Smokey Bear was born on August 9, 1944. His proud parents were the United States Forest Service and the Wartime Advertising Council. The “Smokey the Bear” song was written by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins in 1952, so everyone gets the furry firefighter’s name wrong now.

More:

“From Orphaned Cub to Internationally Known Forest Service Icon, Smokey Bear Turns 70 Years Old Next Year!” Donna Drelick, USDA blog

The biography of Smokey Bear: the cartoon came first,” John Kelly, Washington Post

h/t: Erica Palan,Mental Floss

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