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Letters, Dec. 3

The wrong cause

As you’ve heard: “Denial ain’t a river in Egypt!” Denial flows from Washington, D.C. to the western states.

Data indicate that the area burned by fire has been increasing over the last few decades. But data also tell us that going back a century and beyond, the area of western forests burned was much greater than today.

So, what’s been happening? Since the wildfire trend started in the 1970s or 1980s before logging was substantially reduced, that cannot be the problem.

However, what happened in the mid-early years of last century was an extensive campaign of fire suppression. Meanwhile, during the 1970s-1980s and onward, climatic conditions started becoming notably different as temperatures rose, snowpack declined, and soils started drying out, producing worsening drought trends.

Throughout the world, areas with our winter wet / summer dry climate support vegetation that is fire-prone, fire-adapted, and fire-dependent. Since fire is critical to the health of our forests and is inevitable with global warming continuing, we’ll never prevent fires however hard we try. Urging yet more fire suppression rather than sane fire management is displaying ignorance.

It’s alarming to see uniformed citizens and politicians blaming the wrong causes for fires.

Alan Journet, co-facilitator, Southern Oregon Climate Action Now


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