Wild Fires Out West

Tragedy everywhere. It’s hard to focus on just one piece of bad news. While you try to figure a way for society to bounce back from one cataclysm, another calamity is slapping you in the face. Bad news travels fast, as they say, but does there need to be so much of it?

Sometimes it feels like being a speed bag in a Muhammad Ali workout. Rat-a-tat-tat the numbing blows keep coming until we are overcome by the sheer volume of blows. Death, destruction, pestilence and famine are present everywhere, even in the richest countries.

Surprisingly, the “happiest people on Earth”, the Finns, have decided to buy an insurance policy from NATO to gain a sense of protection from their neighbor. What has changed the Finns long standing policy of neutrality? Obviously Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine was the catalyst for their decision to apply for NATO membership, but could there be more “burning” issues?

Finland shares an 830 mile border with Russia that is predominantly rural forests. Currently Russia is on fire and there is not enough manpower on hand to put out the fires. The fires are so large and uncontrolled that the smoke from the fires is carrying to the western United States adding to the pollution here. Studies have shown that the fires in Russia are getting larger and more frequent every year. These are not just “ordinary” fires. These are peat fires that are burning rich organic material that is carbon rich. This carbon not only releases huge amounts of methane and carbon into the air, but can enter the lungs of mammals and create disease.

The fires increase the causes of global warming and therefore create more wildfires. Russia is in a cycle that could be existential, and I’m not just talking about ticking off everyone else on the planet because of their aggression. Putin’s plan may have been to gobble up as much territory and resources as possible to keep his already under-served population from extinction. There are reports that the peat is burning even around frozen lakes. Even to the most dull of us, we recognize that when the ground is burning under your house it’s time to move. Putin has never been considered dull.

No one country or peoples are immune to the effects of these fires. These peat bogs exist in a large number of countries around the world. The issue is that while they are normally fire resistant because of their wet nature, global warming has dried the bogs and made them susceptible to being ignited by wildfires. The key is prevention if possible and rapid response if a fire does break out. Russia’s commitment to take the resources it needs rather than protect the ones it has could prove to be its undoing. Every able bodied Russian is off to Ukraine to loot and rape and pillage while their homeland is becoming tinder. How could a supposed super power ignore science and keep on fanning the flames of disaster?

While it’s hot as the dickens here in Georgia, at least we’re not on fire like they are out West. The mind just boggles when you see the amount of acreage being consumed by fire. Fire seems to be pretty indiscriminate, too. Rich folk’s houses are being burned right along with the trailer parks.

Watching the crews going through doing cleanup, and only finding smoldering wood is pretty sobering. All of your mementos, all of your capital gone in a flash while leaving behind just a smoldering outline of where you once thrived. The sight should be sobering. It should be a wake-up call that climate change/global warming is real. It is estimated that there will be 1.2 BILLION people displaced by climate change by 2050. Some of them will be driving tanks.

Nothing bands humanity together like a disaster. It would be great if we could band together now to prevent a future disaster.

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