Over the last seven years I have become interested in the following topics in roughly chronological order: peak oil, renewable energy with a focus on wind, renewable ammonia, food security, and water security. More and more I am starting to see that global wildfire patterns are also important. The video seen here was originally posted at NASA’s Earth Observatory
Fire is a natural part of all but the wettest ecosystems. Everywhere west of the Mississippi except the coastal Pacific Northwest used to burn in a fairly regular fashion. Some plant species need fire as part of their natural cycle. Humans have been exhuming fossil carbon for two hundred years and when World War II flying boats like the PBY Catalina came out of service they were repurposed into water bombers and we suppressed fire everywhere. This worked until critical masses of dead growth fueled fires of previously unseen scope and intensity. We grudgingly began to permit fire to do its work in ecosystems.
This April was the 350th month of above average temperatures. My next big birthday is fifty, the last time we had a normal month I was still a minor. This is a ‘fire tornado’, with thousand degree temperatures and category five hurricane force winds feeding into it. These are a normal event in hilly, windy country, but there are many, many more of them in California this year thanks to a record fire season. This is the hottest May for California since record keeping started in 1896, the state has a record drought, and the fires came sixty days early and at triple the normal rate.
03 Environmental Degradation (250) @ Phi Beta Iota