Natural wildfires regenerate the soil with nutrients and burn away potentially super-dangerous brush. Some tress, like pines, depend on fires to spread their seeds in their cones! Stephen J. Pyne, an ex-firefighter and Prof. of Ecological History - is a specialist on the social mis-management of fires in the US. He has written extensively about different societies over time have used actively used controlled fires to develop the land or to practice cultural rituals. From national geographic:
"Today's fires can grow unusually fierce because Smokey Bear went overboard. For decades, the well-meaning policy of suppressing all forest fires allowed too much fuel—dead wood, underbrush, small trees—to build up on public lands, especially in the fire-prone West. What might have once been a minor grass fire now turns cataclysmic, like last year's Hayman Fire in Colorado."
This is also a chance for us to think about how much control we have over nature - people build homes right in the middle of forests and lands that are prone to fires. Is there anything logical to that? When we don't let natural fire happen, suburban homes on the edges become the unnatural barrier. I hope these San Diego fires get people to think more about ongoing fire management than fire suppression.
I took this picture this morning of the fire at UCSD - 8am and it's fire sky already. In the meantime - I am safe from the fires. The air is just horrific though - my eyes, nasal passages and throat burns. I worry about those who have asthma.
You can read my other thoughts about the racial class politics of San Diego fires here, National news coverage of SD fires here, distortion of wildfires here, emphasis of LA over SD here, and what a Sociologist would do during a fire here. this was photo overlay was created by tim