Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Even Boeing-747 Tanker Jets Can’t Win Our Total War on Fires

The more effectively we suppress fires, the worse they become. As climate change makes the world more combustible, we need a new approach.

A US Air Force C-130 Hercules sprays retardant on a wildfire in Waldo Canyon, Colorado (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Stephany Richards/US Air Force) Click to Enlarge.
Aerial fire fighting is a critical but expensive tool for managing wildfire.  Because wildfires will become more frequent and severe due to climate change there is no question we need aerial fire fighting technology – particularly helicopters and specially trained crews that can be inserted into remote areas.  But uncritical belief and investment in aerial fire fighting technologies alone is a road to fiscal ruin.  Thoughtlessly investing in aerial fire-fighting will not meet the formidable fire management challenges that are being amplified by climate change.

A fraction of the US investments in aerial fire fighting redirected to preventative fire management, such as planned burning and strategic vegetation thinning, retrofitting poorly designed housing and training ground crews could yield a much bigger bang for the buck, as well as providing year round employment for rural communities.  The media optics of aerial drop of bright red fire retardant from a thundering fire bomber comes at considerable environment and social costs and engenders a dangerously false sense of security in a rapidly warming and more combustible world.

Read more at Even Boeing-747 Tanker Jets Can’t Win Our Total War on Fires

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