Karsten Winegeart: Portland Forest Fires, 2018 (Unsplash)
From The Guardian:
Fire is not in itself a bad thing. Many landscapes, built to burn, simply couldn’t exist without regular fires, either natural or intentional. Though foresters once sought to tamp blazes out everywhere, we now recognise that as a grave mistake. A fireproof planet isn’t something we can get, or should even want.
It helps to think of fire as like rain. Our world needs precipitation, and some ecosystems even depend on floods. But, as we know, it’s possible to have too little rainfall in one area and too much elsewhere, to see some places parched and others dangerously inundated. Something similar has happened with fire – we’re getting too much and too little at the same time.
We badly need a healthier relationship to combustion. Rather than erratic, runaway fires, we need regular, restorative ones, like we used to have. Our forebears didn’t shun flame – they were relentless fire-setters. But they adhered to two important limits. First, they fed their fires with living vegetation, which reclaims lost carbon as it regrows. Second, they were guided by long-acquired experience with fire’s complex paths and consequences.
We’ve blasted far past both of those limits.