I have been waiting for our writer Steve Kelly to jump in in on the forest fires that are burning in Montana and other states. Looking at photos, it seems like a conflagration. People get very upset by them, as green forests are turned to char and dust. However, is a natural process. All of the organic matter is recycled. True, it is not pleasant to walk in a ghost forest, but people will be surprised when it is all over how much forest is still standing. The amount of smoke these fires put out is impressive.
The fires are a result of hot weather without moisture. Having grown up in Montana, I remembered the wet years and did not realize that dry years were more far more the norm. My mother’s family did dryland farming near Baker and Ekalaka on land that was more suited for grazing antelope. The railroads hyped it to get people to live there, claiming that a person could make a living on 160 acres. The true acreage required for survival, according to a study by John Wesley Powell, was over 3,000. They had a few good years, mostly bad, and the homesteaders of that era mostly made their way to places where there was more water.
Forest fires are common in that latitude. The Timber Lobby, always wanting to capitalize on a crisis, maintains that we have fires due to inadequate logging, calling their activity a “forest health” enterprise. (Note: you can always tell when a public relations firm has been hired to sell a lie. The subject is reduced to two pithy impactful words. “Forest health.” “Death panels.” “Fake news.”)
People assume, of course, that forest fires are evidence of global warming, and indeed we are in a warming trend. We have been walking over and under glaciers for the last two weeks, and for sure they are receding at a rapid rate. But when you think if it, we are living on a planet in constant flux, and glaciers can do only one of two things: grow or shrink. I look forward to Canadian wine, as warmer climate will open up new crop land. I’d rather live in a warmer than colder climate. We are told by climatologists that from 1300 to 1850 a.d or so we suffered from a cooling trend, accompanied by loss of cropland and mass migrations, as with the Norsemen. It is called the Little Ice Age. Glaciers were growing, and none were too thrilled about that. It will come around again, hopefully not in my lifetime.
Below is a comment by Moodydeb that reinforces my suspicion that these hurricanes are being hyped, each one worse than all that came before:
Greetings: Here in N Florida, we’re awaiting “the storm of the century”. I95N has been bumper to bumper with people fleeing north to safety for the past 2 days. Grocery shelves here are empty, picked clean by a panicked populace. 24 hr/day TV coverage showing endless videos of the hurricane and the extensive damage it has caused dominate the airwaves. “Evacuate now!!!” seems to be the rallying cry of the moment. Evacuate to where? The shelters are full, there are no rooms available between here and Tennessee, and it’s just as dangerous on the highway now as it is to ride the storm out. Yet….no one knows exactly where this storm is headed. At first, it looked like we were going to get hit. Now it’s shifted to the west coast. With any luck, it will head out to the Gulf and die there. (We survived Matthew last year; we are staying.) Yes, it’s a dangerous storm. Yes, we need to be ready. But there’s no reason to stampede the herd…and that’s exactly what it appears that those in power are doing. What keeps running through my head is something I’ve read here: “Fear makes people so much easier to control.” and panic makes it even easier. Never waste a good crisis, right? Just thoughts that have been rattling around for the past few days. Thanks for letting me add my 3¢.