Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Fighting Fire with Fire: Excellent and fair reporting in this month's Smithsonian on the Western wildfires of the past few years. The article does lean toward solutions like limited commercial clearing to keep the fuel level down, but not without airing the views of the environmental lobby. In addition, it features a group of active and retired forest firefighters who advocate a limited hands-off approach (once fuel levels have been reduced) in order to restore the natural cycle of small, beneficial fires. The environmentalists are off the reservation on this one. Fighting against fuel clearing, they help produce the dangerous situation, against which current fire-fighting methods can't compete. I can only speculate that the hard greens see any presence of commercial logging as a loss for their side. In fact, one environmentalist quoted in the story, Brian Segee, accuses the forest service of "hijacking important concepts like fuels reduction to disguise traditional timber sales." This is idiocy driven by environmentalist ideological purity and plain hubris.

Like it or not, humans are part of the environment, and we're going to have some kind of effect. We can manage that effect, in a sort of ecological compromise that approximates a healthy, low-fuel level forest; or we can worship at the altar of Gaia and get the results that the last couple of years have brought to Arizona. As with the anti-war crowd, the anti-managed environment crowd sees lots of evil in current policies but has no plan to defend against the consequences of the surrender they advocate.

No comments: