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Special Report: Wildfires

Melbourne, Jan 18 (360info) Planing and mitigations in a bushfire-prone world.

“Fire pre-dated humans and will still be here on Earth when we are all long gone,” says Royal Holloway University of London Distinguished Research Professor Andrew C. Scott, author of Fire – A very short introduction.

When humans learned to control fire, perhaps 400,000 years ago, it offered warmth, protection from predators and a way to prepare food and tools. Humans entered a period, dubbed the “the pyrocene” by Arizona State researcher Stephen J. Pyne, in which the activity of humans is etched into the geological record in charcoal deposits. Humans came together around fire, allowing language and culture to flourish. The evolution of humanity was catalysed by fire.

But as humans moved into larger towns and cities, open fires were replaced by the coal-burning electricity plants powering our heaters. Combustion was still present, but at a remove. Soon the only time that people paid attention to fire was when conflagrations threatened homes. Fire became a terrifying force to be extinguished as soon as possible.

But evidence shows that in many cases, smaller scale burning can prevent larger fires, and can be beneficial for some ecosystems. Calling upon knowledge preserved in Indigenous cultures has been a path back to a more balanced relationship with fire.

“For humans to cope with fire in the future, we need to heed lessons from more than 400 million years of fire on this planet. We may never ‘tame’ fire, but we may learn to work with and around this essential geographical process,” says Scott.

REALITY CHECK Wildfires cost the US economy US$10.6 billion in 2021, and $17.6 billion in 2020.

Globally, smoke from wildfires is responsible for 5 to 8 percent of the 3.3 million premature deaths each year from poor air quality The amount of land burned by wildfires each year appears to be decreasing, however the cost of fire fighting is increasing The weather that fanned the devastating 2019/20 Australian bushfires was made 30% more likely by climate change BIG IDEAS Quotes attributable to Stephen Pyne, emeritus professor at Arizona State University, USA.

“Often thought of as a natural disaster, perhaps fire more emulates COVID-19 than a hurricane. If so, it responds to biological, not just physical, conditions.” “It is as though the world of the ice ages has passed through the looking glass and ice is being replaced with fire.” Quote attributable to Andrew C. Scott, Royal Holloway University of London Distinguished Research Professor “Earth is the only planet known to have fire because Earth is the only planet to possess plants to fuel it. Fire is an expression of life on Earth and an index of life’s history.” ( AMS AMS

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

Source: The Print

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