I was thinking today about going home to Colorado and once again seeing the haze in the skyline of all the fires that have been burning. So many people ask when I say that I’m from Colorado about them and sometimes it’s hard to explain because we have such a beautiful state and mother nature is just going through a “re-growing” process. This got me to thinking about all those acres of dry and dead wood burning, what kind of effect does that have? Wildfires are still a part of nature and they play a key role in shaping ecosystems as part of the process of renewal and change. However, these fires are deadly and destroy everything in its path; homes, animal habitats, and timber. All this burning still pollutes the air with harmful emissions as seen by the firefighters still having to wear masks if they get really close to the big fires. These fires still release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere even though the effect on the landscape may not be long-lasting. A National Science Foundation article published in 2007 (see link) reported that the fires in that year in California and the western states put as much carbon dioxide into the air as much as the states’ entire motor vehicle traffic for one year! These fires may not all be intentional and started from just a lightning strike, so they are “natural” right? Interesting to see how some things are not all man caused in the carbon dioxide emission data, but we shall see if new laws in the future take forest fires and their prevention into consideration.
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