“Remember, only YOU can prevent forest fires.” -Smokey the Bear

The cover of Extreme Threats: Wildfires

In Texas, wildfires have destroyed 2.2 million acres and more than four hundred homes this year, according to the Texas Forest Service. In the eastern part of our own home state, North Carolina, wildfires have raged across 21,000 acres, causing poor air quality as far west as the Raleigh/Durham area.

‘Tis the season for wildfires. With summer on the horizon, heat indexes will soar and so will the threat of fire.

According to Kevin Cunningham, author of the Morgan Reynolds book Extreme Threats: Wildfires, “The term wildfire means a fire that takes place in an underdeveloped or wild area.”

The problem is, these areas that are affected by wildfires, while less populated than urban areas, are not exactly wild. People do live in these areas, and have for years. In the last century, the battle between human and fire has become more and more prevalent as our population grows.

Cunningham writes that a wildfire is “by definition untamed, a force of nature that comes into existence and then sustains itself at the nexus where heat, oxygen, and fuel interact.”

He goes on, “[T]oday a great deal of the damage occurs at the forest’s edge, where human development bumps up against wild areas that are prone to burning—that in some cases evolved to burn—and that have become more dangerous because of, rather than in spite of, human activities.”

Humans can live in harmony with this, one of nature’s threats, but that would mean making compromises. But are we willing to change our lifestyles in order to remain safe?

James Smalley of the National Fire Prevention Association once said, “[P]eople who live in natural settings don’t quite get it yet—that you can adapt, that you can still have a natural beautiful setting. You have to understand that fire is part of the natural landscape. So you have to adapt.”

Cunningham writes, “The obvious solution to the problem—moving human settlements away from wildlands—will never happen. Living close to nature is for many part of the American Dream.”

We are not a species that likes to settle. But we have to accept that the world is getting smaller by the minute, and we have to make certain sacrifices—like where we live, and how we life—in order to keep threats such as wildfires from becoming disasters.

Jack Cohen, of the U.S. Forest Service, said, “We have the ability to be compatible with fire. But we mostly choose not to be . . . . Our expectations, desires, and perceptions are inconsistent with the natural reality.”

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information about wildfires and prevention, please check out Extreme Threats: Wildfires (ISBN: 978-1-59935-120-9).

Check out the rest of the series too!

Extreme Threats: Volcanoes by Don Nardo                                                                 (ISBN 978-1-59935-118-6)

Extreme Threats: Climate Change by Don Nardo                                                      (ISBN 978-1-5935-119-3)

Extreme Threats: Asteroids and Comets by Don Nardo                                          (ISBN 978-1-59935-121-6)

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Published in: on May 12, 2011 at 11:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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