Wednesday, August 06, 2003

The Nova Special Fire Wars brought up an interesting observation. Toward the end of the special, they discussed the amount of green house gasses released by wild fires and the role that fires play in the various heat and energy cycles.

From about 1910 to the 1980s, the forest service engaged in total fire suppression. The result is that during these decades, there was an unusual amount of carbon sequestration in the forests. The forests became excedingly dense. The main thing that means is that todays' fires have more fuel and are stronger and hotter.

From a carbon content view, it also means that the forests were pulling substantially more carbon than they usually do.

Now, I am wondering what this means for global warming. The extra carbon sequestored during the total suppression years was basically just stored for release in this decade. This feeds the doom and gloom crowd's view that global warming with hit hard and with a vengeance in the upcoming decades.

The conservative view would use this as justification to return to total fire reduce green house gasses, and to beef up logging operations...since landfills are the great unnatural method of carbon sequestration.

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