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ScienceNostalgia101

Solution to wildfire issues

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Time and time again, some part of the world's forests are on fire. I've discussed in this thread the notion of a network of water pipes above the forest, and I've been told it's unfeasible. I'm not sure if that has changed, but in the meantime, I intend to focus on the other options.

 

A. Would increased logging of temperate forests significantly reduce the amount of combustible material in the long run? I've heard it temporarily increases it before decreasing it; why is that? (I would assume they'd find use for the wood, if not by incentivizing paper use as an alternative to other materials, then by incentivizing )

 

B. What if they created a large criss-crossed pattern of permanent firebreaks such that the larger "forest" is then divided into a set of smaller forests, such that only one of these smaller forests can catch fire at a time, such that the forests can still use fire to replenish themselves without presenting as much of a danger to human lives?

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A - Yes, it's called 'thinning', but it's controversial. Quick search found this from 2009.

Quote- "Fire-science experts say that overgrown forests must be thinned. Environmentalists say that thinning is really an excuse to engage in destructive logging. And then everybody heads to court".

https://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Bright-Green/2009/0902/wildfires-the-causes-and-solutions

B- I imagine this would require so much removal of forest when added up you'd run into the same problems as A.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Enough people prioritize the environment over human lives to prevent thinning and firebreak-grids? Where were these people when the Lac Megantic derailment was used as an excuse for pipelines? (Putting aside the use of trains for other dangerous goods than just oil.)

 

Quite frankly, that kind of thing makes me wish they'd not only create permanent firebreaks but salt the Earth beneath them as well.

Edited by ScienceNostalgia101

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If you stop the fires, how will that impact that which is dependent on fire? Is the impact an acceptable tradeoff to the benefits of limiting fire?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

Enough people prioritize the environment over human lives to prevent thinning and firebreak-grids?

It is more a case of people building homes in fire prone locations then expecting the environment to be made safe around them afterwards, ie prioritising human choice over the environment - mostly it is choice not need in nations like the USA or Australia. Active hazard reduction measures require funding, equipping and organising - and citizens can be complacent at the personal level and can vote against giving governments the authority or capabilities or funding needed at larger levels. Climate change is increasing the dangers and the challenges and the costs.

4 hours ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

What if they created a large criss-crossed pattern of permanent firebreaks such that the larger "forest" is then divided into a set of smaller forests,

I think this overestimates how effective fire breaks are. Under mild conditions and for cool weather hazard reduction fires they help contain fires with good levels of success. During dangerous conditions with major fires they are used where possible to fight fire with fire by 'backburning' back towards oncoming fires, but with only limited success - even when heavily resourced with firefighting personnel and equipment to prevent the fire jumping. Australia's fires are dropping burning embers that start new fires many kilometres  ahead of fire fronts.

There is no simple let alone low cost preventative measure. Eradication of vegetation is neither feasible nor desirable. Management involves government and statutory authorities that need to be resourced. On the ground individual landowners are going to have some of what they consider their "rights" overridden to reduce the broader risks.

 

Edited by Ken Fabian

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6 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

It is more a case of people building homes in fire prone locations then expecting the environment to be made safe around them afterwards, ie prioritising human choice over the environment - mostly it is choice not need in nations like the USA or Australia. Active hazard reduction measures require funding, equipping and organising - and citizens can be complacent at the personal level and can vote against giving governments the authority or capabilities or funding needed at larger levels. Climate change is increasing the dangers and the challenges and the costs.

I think this overestimates how effective fire breaks are. Under mild conditions and for cool weather hazard reduction fires they help contain fires with good levels of success. During dangerous conditions with major fires they are used where possible to fight fire with fire by 'backburning' back towards oncoming fires, but with only limited success - even when heavily resourced with firefighting personnel and equipment to prevent the fire jumping. Australia's fires are dropping burning embers that start new fires many kilometres  ahead of fire fronts.

There is no simple let alone low cost preventative measure. Eradication of vegetation is neither feasible nor desirable. Management involves government and statutory authorities that need to be resourced. On the ground individual landowners are going to have some of what they consider their "rights" overridden to reduce the broader risks.

 

Trouble is, cities that have a solid, pragmatic reason to be placed where they do also suffer the consequences of forest fires. (Fort McMurray comes to mind.) I can see why people who built their homes in the middle of nowhere could reasonably be considered at fault, but what about cities with plainly practical reasons for their location? Why is there not more of a movement to create large enough firebreaks to stop the fire? Or irrigation systems within those firebreaks that could be remotely activated to spray the embers?

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If you stop the fires, how will that impact that which is dependent on fire? Is the impact an acceptable tradeoff to the benefits of limiting fire?

 

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Stopping fires paradoxically makes them worse when they start. This is why so many efforts toward controlled burns are executed by farmers, firefighters, and the like

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16 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

There is no simple let alone low cost preventative measure. Eradication of vegetation is neither feasible nor desirable. Management involves government and statutory authorities that need to be resourced.

we could mitigate by clearing some areas

 

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22 hours ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

I can see why people who built their homes in the middle of nowhere could reasonably be considered at fault,

To be fair, many would have been unaware of the full extent of the risk - some of which has grown as a climate change consequence.

12 hours ago, dimreepr said:

we could mitigate by clearing some areas

That does happen. Just as hazard reduction burning is a priority around the edges of vulnerable towns and cities. Like most options it still involves costs - acquistion as well as maintenance; cleared areas don't get that way or stay like that by themselves. Bare dirt is welcome when a fire is approaching but at other times it invites erosion and environmental degradation. Forests and parks have positive values in their own right and widescale elimination of vegetation has significant downsides, even leaving aside conserving natural biology and ecosystems. And I do not think we should leave those aside. Firebreaks - including wide ones around the interface of towns and forests are one element of mitigation but they are not ever going to be an absolute protection.

It is hard to overstate how flammable the bush in Eastern Australia has been - not just lighting fires is prohibited, but so is outdoor welding, grinding, using tractor grass slashers. Metal bulldozer tracks have started fires. Even mechanical grain harvester cannot be used in extremes of heat and low humidity. The sight of a cigarette lighter becomes as alarming as someone waving an assault rifle around.

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On 1/5/2020 at 1:07 AM, zapatos said:

If you stop the fires, how will that impact that which is dependent on fire? Is the impact an acceptable tradeoff to the benefits of limiting fire?

 

  •  

Again, a network of permanent firebreaks could isolate the fire to one grid square at a time (presuming it didn't spread) but that isn't denying them fire altogether. It's just having one grid square catch fire at a time. So they'd still replenish themselves with fire, just on a smaller (if more frequent) scale.

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A challenge with this tactic is to actually employ it. There is usually sever lack of funding to create and maintain permanent firebreaks, especially in remote areas. Often, locals are encouraged to assist (and sometimes are solely responsible). There are also models where loggers are encouraged to build firebreaks and thin out woods at the same time (though often they just do what is most economical, not necessarily what is best for fire prevention). But in areas far off from any cities it is a challenge to fund such or other maintenance measures.

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2 hours ago, CharonY said:

There is usually sever lack of funding to create and maintain permanent firebreaks, especially in remote areas.

It would be made considerably easier if it weren't almost entirely up to the states to fund and coordinate preventative measures (in Aus, anyway). Years ago, in the aftermath of the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009, there was a huge shortfall identified in the way that we manage land and fuel load that contributed to the severity of the fires at the time. Almost nothing has changed, and the states simply don't have the resources to do what needs to be done on the scale required. Given the magnitude of these fires, and given that it's only going to get worse, I can't see any good reason why there shouldn't be more federal funding made available for this. If they can spend close to $30million detaining four people on Christmas Island for the singular purpose of showing how cruel they can be, they can surely spare something towards being better prepared for bushfires. It would also be helpful if our current government hadn't of cut funding to the fire and rescue services, and ignored the urgent requests of former fire and safety chiefs earlier this year to discuss the lack of preparedness for the current fire season. 

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aussie here.

i think the biggest problem is people.

the ones that know nothing of the bush putting their 2 bobs worth in. there should be some law that say that politician who live in the cities are exempt from adding their say in parliament regarding country issues.

and then the ones that dont bother doing any research. just blurting out what they have seen or heard as if its a fact, when a little bit of research can easily put holes in it.

while ever this goes on, we dont stand a chance. and history shows this.

after the black Saturday fires the royal commission stated that biggest reason for the fires was lack of winter burning and the best prevention for future fires is winter burning.  (yes, it does state that climate is a factor, but a very small factor compare to winter burning)  .this has been completely ignored by all governments and even ignored by all the people who think the fires are scomos fault.

then theres the people  that say that this is the biggest fire in history. when a bit of research can find fires just as big, just as fierce. some of them a hundred years ago. but the difference between those fires and todays fires is how it affects people. more people live in or near the bush, they either cant or wont protect their propety and then when summer comes they wonder why they lost their house. how is their own ignorance toward how much fuel is outside their house scomos fault? 

i found a local map of my own area. its an official national  park map of my local area showing the winter fuel reductions over the past few years. every part of this map is compete bullshit. they state that particular areas were burnt and they give the time burnt. and they are probably using these figures to justify their fuel reduction quota. but as a local i can tell you those places were not burnt at all. ever. until the last few weeks.

the places in question used to be state forest. they were selective logged which employed hundreds of timber workers. (which potentially results in fewer timber imports). the logging process was overseen by a local. and the buck stopped with him. there were never any raging wild fires through this area. because if a fire did start, previous back burning and/or access trough fire trails meant the fire could be put out. animals had a chance to escape.

until bob car wrecked it

he went through and made everything national park. hundreds of people lost their jobs. the place was all locked up. it was never ever burned in winter against locals advice and against what nation parks service stated to their head office. and come this summer the whole lot burnt, meaning the animals had no chance of escape.

the people who simply say that the fire are the result of climate change ignore the very basic concept of more fuel equals more fire. they wouldnt smoke at a petrol station so why do they think forest fuel is any different?

FIRE HAS NOT CHANGED, PEOPLE HAVE

 

 

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Sounds just like the floods we have been experiencing over the last few years in England.

You have my sympathies.

Big Government took over flood management from the locals and we have seen two decades of lack of dredging and drainage clearance (too expensive and an accountant told us dredging is not needed !)

Just as you say against the advice (=bitter opposition) of the locals who had been managing things for the previous couple of centuries ( by dredging).

+1

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