Elaine Meinel Supkis
After a winter of deadly fires, experts suggest we will see even worse this summer. Some belated spring rains/tornadoes swept the plains so the fire hazard has relented somewhat but this only will make things worse if it all dries up in the summer. Winter has been summer down in the south. Summer is going to be hell when it comes.
Wildfires have been raging intermittently since the beginning of the year in parts of the western United States, where the term "fire season" has lost all meaning.
In what is already by far the worst year for wildfires in Texas history, a million acres (405,000 hectares) burned in the Texas panhandle during one week in March, and 19 lives have been lost since January 1.
"We have never seen a year like this," said Marilyn Grossman, spokesperson for the Texas Forest Service.
"It has people really shaken, and unfortunately we are not out of the woods yet."
It may have shaken people but just like the heroic hurricane season last year, it hasn't motivated anyone important to do something sane such as severely cut down on production of greenhouse gasses. Indeed, Americans are on fire over high fuel prices because filling the cavernous tanks of their tank like cars is scaring the GOP and Bush into all sorts of insane schemes to enable further gas guzzling. It is with some small pleasure for me to see more and more sanely sized vehicles on the road. I have always driven gas miser-small cars except when hauling stuff with the truck which is strictly used for business only. It has terrified me over the last five years, trying to drive around all these screamingly huge vehicles driven by people who think they are in sports cars.
Instead of feeling bad when I see a wreck, whenever I saw a SUV upside down on a dry, open, often straight road, I would wish the driver ill. Many Americans absolutely refuse to make the connection between the Kyoto Accord refusal and our present agonies. Tearfully, we stagger around, wondering why we can't suspend the laws of Nature. Why can't we do whatever we want, all the time, we wail.
The combined forces of persistent drought and high heat are teaming up to create what could be one of the worst fire seasons on record.
NIFC has listed much of the country at above-average risk for wildfires, with the greatest danger zones in the West and South, stretching from Alaska to Florida.
Even here in the Northeast! This spring has been one long fire alert. We got 2" of rain so that has been alleviated but I am very wary about the summer. This is why I have been frantically building terraces to catch the rain water, I no longer have a flock of sheep as well as the horse but if it is too dry, a pasturage that feed 30 animals might not feed even one!
This is one of many reasons why I am baffled about the joy expressed for burning plants to drive cars. If we continue to aggravate global warming, if we must grow plants that can be turned into alcohol, we might just lose even that to out of control fires! And growing water-loving plants in an increasingly drought-wracked world won't work, either.
And as Australia discovered, if one's acres of sugar cane or other, similar plants, are swept by violent hurricanes, tornadoes and hail storms, there isn't much to harvest, is there? Bush just announced he is going to raise CAFE standards on vehicles but last time this was attempted, the auto unions and American drivers all united to howl that one down just like no one was interested in signing the Kyoto Accords.
Even now, we won't sign them. We boasted that we were cutting down greenhouse gas emissions without signing the accords but this proved to be totally false. We have been increasing our output, dramatically.