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60 minutes on mega fires and climate change

Post in 'The Green Room' started by KeithO, Oct 25, 2007.

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  1. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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  2. smirnov3

    smirnov3 Feeling the Heat

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    I have not read this interview, but I've seen several news articles blaming 'Climate change' for the forest fires.

    that's 90% BS.

    Climate change is the buzz word of the year, and everything is getting blamed on it

    "oh, yeah, my hemmeroids are bothering me. it's the climate change, you know"

    The reason we have so many Mega fires are several
    1) poor fire control policy - we have been putting out wild fires as soon as we catch them, so wild fire fuel has accumulated.
    2) we have cut down old growth forest (which is less prone to wild fire) and replaced it with young growth or undergrowth (prime wildfire material)
    3) In californai especially, remaining old-grwoth trees have been weekend by parasites
    4) many non-desert plants have been planted by homeowners. these have spread during the past few wet years. now during a dry year, many of these plants died. Here (and only here), climate change may have played a factor.
  3. wilbilt

    wilbilt New Member

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    Don't forget to add:

    "Building thousands of expensive homes where they will be directly in the path of the next major fire"

    to that list.
  4. smirnov3

    smirnov3 Feeling the Heat

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    Yeah, that's pretty stupid too, but I intentionally left that off the list, because the current crop of Mega-fires is much bigger than the wild fires from the early 90's, irrespective of how many people were going to lose their homes, and that was what I was getting at.
  5. rhetoric

    rhetoric Member

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    I wonder what percentage of the homes that burned had wood shake roofing. Oy.
  6. rhetoric

    rhetoric Member

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    If I were insuring homes in (name area) I would require the home be built to (name common regional disaster) specifications. We go around building homes out of the same stuff they use to make matches (wood), build them in the middle of a woodstove (forest) and then act surprised when they burn to the ground. I saw one video of a woman up on her shake shingle roof hosing it down (as the fires blazed around her). A simple standing seam metal roof....
  7. wilbilt

    wilbilt New Member

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    Yes, I guess stupidity should be on another list.

    About wood shake roofs. My folks live down in SoCal in a house they bought in 1967. It originally had a shake roof (as did nearly every house built down there at that time). By about 1970 or so, it was pretty obvious that shakes were a huge liability during fire season.

    They replaced their roof with noncombustible tile about 25 years ago. Most of their neighbors have done the same or similar over the years. I called them last Sunday to see how they were doing. The nearest fire to them was probably 15 miles as the crow flies, but they had lots of smoke and ash flying around.

    I asked if anyone near them still had a shake roof, and apparently there are still 4-5 houses on the block with 40-year old firestarters on top. Amazing.
  8. woodconvert

    woodconvert Minister of Fire

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    "The reason we have so many Mega fires are several
    1) poor fire control policy - we have been putting out wild fires as soon as we catch them, so wild fire fuel has accumulated.
    2) we have cut down old growth forest (which is less prone to wild fire) and replaced it with young growth or undergrowth (prime wildfire material)
    3) In californai especially, remaining old-grwoth trees have been weekend by parasites
    4) many non-desert plants have been planted by homeowners. these have spread during the past few wet years. now during a dry year, many of these plants died. Here (and only here), climate change may have played a factor."

    Don't forget #5:
    5) Arson.
  9. smirnov3

    smirnov3 Feeling the Heat

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    true, but it's the first 4 that turn a little pyro-theater or insurance fraud into a national disaster.

    I think California (rightly) prosecutes arsonists as murderers if anybody dies in the fire.
  10. wilbilt

    wilbilt New Member

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    Yep, even suspected arsonists need to be careful here:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,305216,00.html
  11. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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    There are a lot of issues that combine to create the fire situation. I'm amazed that in this case 60 minutes talks to the people who fight the fires as their livelihood and they seem pretty convinced of the climate change issue. They say that the fire season is on average 2 months longer now than 10-15 years ago. They also say that the burnt zones are not re-growing and that the west may lose half of its forested area in the next few decades. These are not politicians, just blue collar firemen and forestry service people.
  12. smirnov3

    smirnov3 Feeling the Heat

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    california is prone to protracted droughts: there was one from the late 70's to '92, during which time there was almost no rain.

    The past 10-15 years saw abundant rainfall (well, for california), but it looks like Ca may be slipping back to a drought again.

    This is not 'climate change'. this is california's NORMAL climate.

    As to the forests not re-growing: I've read about stuff like that.
    Basically, in a desert eco-system, forests (which developed before the region was a desert) create a localized weather change, forcing passing clouds to drop rain.

    Once the forest is gone, there is no more rain. So the forest is gone forever.
  13. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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    The old buzzards who were interviewed have been doing their job for a bit more than 10-15 years. I've personally never been out there, but these are experienced locals who say that things are different. Its not the same as office workers who are in many cases oblivious to what is going on around them.

    I'm not sure I understand the reference to the forests predating the desert climate. The ponderosa pines that were referred to looked like they may be 40-100 years old, which is not long enough to predate the current climate. They did talk a little about the redwoods, some of which were 2000 years old, but they were not in the area where they were discussing the lack of regrowth. They were examining the growth rings of the redwoods to determine growth rate and concluded that the temperature had shifted upwards continuously over the life of that tree.
  14. smirnov3

    smirnov3 Feeling the Heat

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    I didn't mean that the specific trees pre-dated the desert climatre.
    I meant the stand of forest. As long as there are enough trees to alter the local climate, new saplings can grow to replace trees that die.

    but if all the trees in the forst die, then it is impossible to re-grow the forest without (expensive) human intervention.

    That is one path to irreversable habitat loss
    another, which affect grasslands goes like this:
    pastorals bring herds of foreign animals in to graze on the grass. the animals over-graze, and the topsoil blows away. No more savannah.

    that's how people created the Sahara desert. That's quite an accomplishment. And they didn't even have any fancy tools, like we have now.

    The same thing is going on in China due to over-use of water resources.
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