Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Going Down in Flames

Wildfires used to be only during a certain season. Now, because of global warming, they are much more frequent and occur earlier and later in the year, in some places almost year around. This is a result of climate changes as there are drier winters and warmers springs making fires more likely to start. Additionally, the forests in which the fires start are too dry and overgrown creating much more risk.
"The 10.1 million acres that burned in the United States last year were the most on record, and the top five years for acres burned were in the past decade." Last year's federal costs to fight wildfires was $2 billion, which as more than eight times the amount in 1985.

Hawaii is an example of a state that is desperate need of more federal funding to fight wildfires. They ran out of money four whole months before the busiest time of year for wildfires. One way the United States Forest Service is trying to fight this drastic problem is by minimizing the risk, like planned burns of overgrown areas of forest.

Only this year, Arizona has have nearly 300 fires that burned more than 21,000 acres, which is double the amount they have by this time last year.

The Washington State Legislature asked "for an extra $24 million to train more firefighters, put more equipment into the hands of local fire districts and help homeowners clear brush from their properties. He got $6.7 million." This is a severely lacking amount when wildfires could spread an wipeout  whole counties.

"Some argue that fires should be left to take their natural course and clear out the thick, dry brush on the forest floor." This is a problem because due to the advanced technology that exists many more people are moving into wild lands. They are able to work anywhere with the internet. “More and more, fire crews are pulling back, willing to sacrifice land for safety.”
Some people want to cut cost for firefighting, which seems like a really bad idea.

I believe that a good course of action would be to restrict more people from moving into dangerous areas in isolation with high risk of wildfires. The government should continue to increase the budgets to fight wildfires as it is a matter of people's safety and they need to find a way to decrease the number of fires, if possible. Environmental protection is also important. It takes a long time for forests to grow back and each fire destroys the earth. We only get one earth to live on. I believe that the environmental protection and the safety of the public is a top priority.

Questions:
Do you think that the government should spend more money on fighting wildfires? Can they do more and should they?
Do you believe that purposely burning the forest is the best solution as it causes more damage to the ozone layer and earth as a whole?
What type of policy would you implement to battle these fires?
Do you think that more regulation of people in wildfire areas will help stop the vast number of fires?

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/13/science/wildfires-season-global-warming.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0
http://www.kvoa.com/story/31714704/state-officials-discuss-increased-potential-for-wildfires

9 comments:

Lea Tan said...

I think the government should spend more money on fighting wildfires, but that the main issue is climate change as a whole, and fighting off wildfires won't help prevent the bigger threat (climate change). I think that the government should really fund more things that help reduce climate change, which would eventually make wildfires and other natural disasters less of a threat. However, because it will take a long time to battle climate change, it does make sense to prevent people from moving to areas that are prone to wildfires right now.

Danny Halawi said...

As Lea said, instead of focusing our time and effort on fighting wildfires, we should instead focus on combating climate change which is causing the problem to begin with. Nobody wants to pour a ton of money into fighting climate change, but the reality is if we don't do it then we're going to have to spend a lot of money into fighting consequences of climate change such as wildfires. Instead of wasting our money on these consequences, wouldn't it be more logical to fund efforts to help end climate change?
In the end, there will come a time where climate change will be so great that we'll have no choice but to address the problem. Rather than letting it get to that point, I believe we should just stop it now.

Annika Olives said...

Forest fires don't always harm: they pave the way for new ecosystems and species to occupy different areas. Still, uncontrolled wildfires are a huge problem. Along with restricting people from living in wildfire-prone areas, we could also administer herbicides to kill plants that are responsible for the rapid spread of the fires or try to make plants more resistant to fire.

Lea brings up an important point about needing to combat climate change, and I agree with Danny that we need to start stronger measures now. Perhaps another question here is how we can get not only politicians, but ourselves, to start caring more seriously about climate change. Will the consequences of the change like these forest fires or rising temperatures make our leaders (and us) more aware of the problem? Just because climate change isn't an immediate problem doesn't mean we shouldn't care -- I'm pretty sure people know that this huge issue exists, but no common citizen is really willing to do anything to help.

ETHAN CHAO said...

We don't want forest fires to burn out of control, threatening air integrity and civilization, so we should be putting more money into this effort. We must also consider how intentionally burning the forest can help prevent forest fires, that is, to destroy small and dry shurbs and trees so that future forest fire won't spread too fast, and can be contained. As for regulation, there isn't much the government can do to stop people from risky behavior. They must instead concentrate on teaching fire prevention in outdoor classes, such as to Boy Scouts and campers.

Sameer Jain said...

The problem with fighting wildfires is that it prevents the natural destruction of forest matter that would normally be burnt away by wildfires. If wildfires are not allowed to follow their natural courses and burn away dead forest matter, new, stronger wildfires will come up and will be even more difficult to stop. However, the lives and homes of Americans matter as well, and need to be protected too. Although it may be too late, like many other posters have said, the best way to deal with this is to address the root cause, which is global warming.

tonynater said...

I believe that the government should not dedicate more funds to fighting wildfires. Though forest fires are burning at a more frequent rate, the areas in which they are burning are very predictable. Instead of spending money on saving the homes of individuals which have extended into fire territory, the government should instead implement stricter policies enforcing where people can settle. This not only cuts on fire-fighting costs, but also preserves natural habitats from human settlement. Furthermore, like Olives said above, forest fires are a natural part of ecosystems --- while they might destroy forests, they also create nutrient rich land for future forests to grow on.

TJ Bonbright said...

I think more funds should be allocated to fighting wildfires, but not to the degree at which the Washington State Legislature would be satisfied with. I agree that as climate change becomes more and more of an immediate threat -- or at least when more people start believing it is -- then more money should go towards preventing it as well as mitigating the problems it causes, such as wildfires. It is important that the government protect its citizens, which is why ensuring that wildfires occur far and few between is worthy of funding.

However, as Tony mentioned, the issue of safety can also be addressed though further regulations regarding where people can live. By preventing people from settling in high risk areas, the government can reduce the amount of people directly affected by wildfires while still allowing for nature to take its course.

Alex Binsacca said...

I think the best course of action to protect our forests would be to help cut back on air pollution all together, as this is a direct cause of forest fire season starting sooner, and lasting longer than they should be. I also think that regulating where people settle down, is another top priority. I that people tend to love the seculdinous and beauty of mother nature, however they are destroying more forests and affecting wildlife by doing so. They are also putting themselves in danger as there is nobody stretching out for miles to help them incase of an emergency. I also think that fire departments should be funded more, or at the very least give more funds to fire departments who are more likely to encounter a forest fire. Or at the very, very, very least, just provide more funds to them during forest fire season.

Christopher Duan said...

I think that more funds in general need to be spent fighting wildfires, but more importantly, these funds should be used to prevent wildfires. A pound of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I'm no expert in wildfires and forest ecosystems, but allowing forests to burn naturally allows the flammable underbrush material to be cleared out, and after all, it is part of the natural lifecyle. Therefore, perhaps letting the forest burn in controlled fashion might not be the worst idea ever. Education is key, and I think that we can all help to prevent these harms in our environment by helping to prevent fires, starting with education at a young age. Therefore, regulation might not be as much of a solution, as I don't see regulation of fire as practical. Finally, one has to consider that most fires are accidental, and arsonists don't have high regard for the law regrading fire. Therefore, e must focus on helping to prevent, not fight.