Sunday, September 02, 2012

A 12-Year View of the Global Pulse of Fire - NYTimes.com

A 12-Year View of the Global Pulse of Fire - NYTimes.com

I was surprised to not see more activity in North America. Wonder if that picture has changed much in the last 6 years?

Some of the global patterns that appear in the fire maps over time are the result of natural cycles of rainfall, dryness, and lightning. For example, naturally occurring fires are common in the boreal forests of Canada in the summer. In other parts of the world, the patterns are the result of human activity. For example, the intense burning in the heart of South America from August-October is a result of human-triggered fires, both intentional and accidental…
There is a brilliant bloom of fire in South America each year, as humans continue their destruction of this vast forest.

Forests and bog land in eastern Russia have been burning since the beginning of June 2012. Contributing to the record fires have been the record temperatures of this past summer. This summer in Siberia has been the hottest on record. The average temperature ranged around 93 degrees Fahrenheit and there doesn’t seem to be any break in the weather coming anytime soon.

But of course, the actions of us puny humans have nothing to do with this. Except we have.

In the early 1900’s Soviet engineers drained swamps to supply peat for electrical power stations. It was eventually stopped in the 1950’s but the bogs were never reflooded. Unfortunately, that approach is currently causing some of the wildfire problems and air quality issues that Russia is dealing with today.

It seems as if everything we do sends cascading ripples of effect into the future. Our children will pay the price for our failure to really think things through before taking action. Or for fudging the results to make things look good for us that are really horrendous.  Consider the story of Thomas Midgley, Jr.  Perhaps his intentions really were good. But he left us a legacy of lead in the dust, and freon in the atmosphere. Which makes me ask the question, "Is science evil?". I don't think so. But I do think that science paid for by commercial interests is often tainted by the need for profit. If the bottom line can afford to pay out a few injury claims, then damn the research, and into production!




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