AP Photo/Don Ryan, FILE
the federal government tries to dump the costs of wildfires
onto local governments,
a new study indicates that federal policies have been making things worse:
"It was the conventional wisdom that salvage logging and planting could
reduce the risk of high-severity fires," said Jonathan R. Thompson,
a doctoral candidate in forest science at Oregon State, who was lead
author of the study appearing this week in Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences. "Our data suggest otherwise."
They suggested that the large stands of closely packed young trees created
by replanting are a much more volatile source of fuel for decades to
come than the large dead trees that are cut down and hauled away in
salvage logging operations.
—Scientists find logging dead trees after wildfire and replanting makes next year’s fire worse,
by Jeff Barnard,
11 June 2007
Salvage logging is removing dead trees after a fire.
It turns out that doesn’t reduce the risk of fire,
and close-packed new-planted trees increase that risk.
The New York Times asked:
The steeply rising cost of preventing and suppressing wildfires, which
burned more of the American landscape in 2006 than in any other year
since at least 1960, is creating a rift between Washington and state
and local governments over how the burden ought to be shouldered.
As Costs of Wildfires Grow, So Does a Question,
by Kirk Johnson,
New York Times,
January 3, 2007
Basically, wildfire costs have increased greatly in recent years,
and the current federal administration wants to dump the costs
Somebody’s been paying attention to global warming and wildfires:
…the Association of Fire Ecology said climate change will limit humans’ ability to manage wildland fire.
“Under future drought and high heat scenarios,” the declaration reads, “fires may become larger more quickly and be more difficult to manage. Fire suppression costs may continue to increase, with decreasing effectiveness under extreme fire weather and fuel conditions. Extreme fire events are likely to occur more frequently.”
Fire ecology group: Climate change will limit wildfire management
By Perry Backus,
31 August 2006
Georgia and Florida swamp and pine fires,
one of the main questions is at what point does
preservation offer greater economic gain than resource extraction.
Looking at the big picture brings out two points:
ActionBioscience.org: The figure "$33 trillion" was once projected as
the value of ecosystems globally. What do you think of this type of
Polasky: The $33-trillion figure refers to one of the earliest studies
that was done on the value of ecosystem services. The lead author was
Robert Costanza. He and his coauthors tried to get at the notion of how
we can establish on a global basis what the value of ecosystem services
is. They came up with a number 33 trillion [USD] plus or minus a few
trillion. There are a number of problems with the study. The most basic
one is the question of what you are talking about when you consider all
the ecosystem services of Earth. The entire system is our life support
system. So what is our life support system worth? You don’t really
have to have a scientific study in order to answer that question. The
real value of the study was not the $33-trillion figure, which who knows
what that means, but that it spurred people to focus on these issues.
Such values can be big, and the dollar value isn’t the only consideration.
There is a bit of risk in that we can’t do without the biosphere,
and some risk management is in order.
Even beyond that obvious non-dollar value,
there are further questions of species diversity and esthetics.
Do we really want to kill off an ecosystem when we don’t really know
what it’s doing for us,
and do we all want to live surrounded by concrete?