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  • OT, Bushfires

    Just for general interest, these fires are within a day or two
    from my place. Busy seting up pumps and clearing whatever possible from around the house and out buildings.
    We got burnt in 2001 but saved the house and buildings. Really keeps us on edge at the moment.

    One of the Sky Crane Water bombing helicopters clipped trees while filling yesterday and damaged all six rotors. Out of commission until spares arive from the States. Hopefully back in action soon.

    http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/dsp_conten...E=2&CAT_ID=874

    Rgds
    Michael

    Australia

  • #2
    Fire is the only natural disaster that we have to worry about here. The pine forests of BC are largely standing deadwood now from pine bark beetle attack. We have 22 million acres of dead pine just waiting to burn in the biggest firestorm ever seen. So far we have been incredibly lucky and it hasn't burnt in a major infestation area, yet.

    Good luck and keep safe.
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    • #3
      Miker, be safe, -- fire is sure a double edged tool --- scary as hell on its ugly side.

      Evan, do you know if your beetle is the same as the one down here (La.,-- the South US)? I had gone for 6-8 yrs without a prob, and in the last couple months have lost 4 pines...2 of em right next to power lines--- Elec co supposed to cut them, I hope!!

      22 million acres!!! Sheesh, our beetle is'nt THAT bad.......
      If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something........

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      • #4
        We have an environmental disaster of monumental proportions going on here. The climate has warmed so much that it no longer kills the pine bark beetles in winter. It's much too late to do anything about it even if there were something to do. The entire central area of BC is being deforested by the infestation.

        Here is a map that is a few years old. It has spread quite a bit since then.



        This is what the forest looks like. It isn't all that obvious which trees are dead so I enhanced the color on the second one to show it. Again, these pics are a bit out of date. Around here the kill rate on pine is now around 95%.





        When, not if, these trees burn it will be a fire of unheard of size.
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        • #5
          We've got the bark beetle here in the local mountains of SoCal too. Something like 1 tree in 3, but from what I hear it's due to drought causing the trees to be weak and more subsceptable to infestation. Fire waitin' to happen.

          I've heard the bark beetle is so bad in B.C. it's affected the price of lumber. No sense in letting good wood fall down or burn from beetle infestation. Forget conservation, the harvest is on.

          SP

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          • #6
            They are trying to salvage as much as possible but there isn't a chance they can get very much of it before it rots, burns or falls down. It isn't a matter of conservation, the trees are dead. It isn't due to previous logging practices, it's caused by climate change.
            Last edited by Evan; 11-23-2006, 10:02 PM.
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            • #7
              You don't think drought had much to do with it Evan? As I recall, the Northwest was dry as a bone over the winter of 03-04? We got all the rain down here that year! 2nd wettest since record keeping began, but the bark beetle was already infesting from previous years. Big Bear Lake was almost dry before all that rain came.

              Is it climate change or just some wild weather? Didja notice we "didn't" have a bunch of hurricanes in the Gulf this year?

              I'm not wholly convinced about this climate change issue. I'm not saying it ain't happening, but it could be completely natural fluctuations and the whole flap is being caused by scientists running around like Chicken Little to keep their funding.

              SP

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              • #8
                Umm, that's tricky. There's so much proof and claims on both sides that it is hard to tell if it's a normal cycle or caused by man. I don't think we will ever know for sure but we sure have polluted the world and I am not a tree hugger. A fire in BC would be a major problem world wide for certain.
                It's only ink and paper

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                • #9


                  The climate is warming. That isn't in doubt. The reasons are not clear but that's another discussion. The evidence for warming is overwhelming. The ice in the arctic and antarctic is breaking up. The sea isn't freezing and the permafrost is melting.

                  The beetles are held in check normally by extended periods of -40 cold. It takes two to three weeks of -40 to kill 90%+ of the population of pine beetles. We haven't had more than a couple of days of temps that cold in the last 15 years. Before that I have seen it as cold as -50 here. I have lived here for over 30 years.

                  The trees here are species that are well adapted to dry climates as this is normally a semi arid area throughout the infected areas with rainfall of less than 15" per year. We haven't had anything that would qualify as drought here as it is already that dry normally. The climate in Central BC is very different from the Pacific Northwest coast further south. It's more of an extension of the climate east of the Cascades in Washington as we are in the rain shadow of the BC Coast Mountains with peaks as high as Mt Waddington at 13,186 ft.

                  There are many other signs of a warming climate here. We are seeing big increases in winter survival rates for all sorts of wildlife. We are also seeing bird species that aren't normally seen this far north. We keep very close track of all the birds we see around here and my wife and I can identify all the species that are usually found here. We have seen several new species of warbler at our pond this year for the first time.

                  Another indication of climate change is a highly unusual die off of extremely hardy common juniper shrubs. Most died over the winter in this area including plants hundreds of years old on my property. The kill rate is over 80%, all at the same time. Nobody I have talked to including registered professional foresters have a good explanation.

                  I speculate that it may have something to do with the Arctic ozone hole which this year drifted down over this area for long periods. Throughout the late winter and early spring the UV ratings were constantly in the high to extreme range. This can stress susceptible types of plants but I haven't been able to find any reliable info about junipers as it doesn't seem to have been studied.

                  The salmon runs on the major BC rivers are being wiped out by significant increases in water temperatures. The average water temperature in rivers such as the Fraser have gone up by several degrees C. That's a lot and greatly increases the energy expenditure of the fish to reach the spawning grounds. Most are not making it.

                  I have been canoeing in the Bowron Lake Park since the early 80s. At the south end of the park are high mountains that used to have "permanent" ice fields. The last time I canoed there some years ago in the late 90s those ice fields had all but disappeared.

                  A couple of years ago we traveled through the icefields highway up the center of Banff and Jasper National parks. We hadn't been through there for many years, sometime in the 70s. The famous icefields are a shadow of their former self and the tours of the ice caves were cancelled some years ago as they have collapsed and melted.

                  There is no question that the climate is warming. The evidence isn't just here in BC. It's obvious all over the planet. More icebergs, retreating glaciers or glaciers that are advancing much more quickly as they melt. Ocean temperatures are up and that represents a huge increase in stored heat.

                  I'm glad that I don't live on the coast. It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I just hope we don't get burnt out. I'll be taking out more of the trees near my house next spring. Summer here is becoming a very nervous time of year.
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                  • #10
                    I have heard in 30 years there won't be any glaciers left in Glacier Nat'l Park. Greenland is melting. But the big question is, how much is man-made and how much is a natural swing?

                    No doubt the burning of fossil fuels is a contributing factor, but I'll give you an analysis I read in a book that makes some sense. Michael Crichton's "State of Fear" is the source.

                    He uses the anaology of the atmosphere as a football field. Nitrogen being the primary component at over 70% takes us past the 70 yard line. Luckily for us oxygen is next at over 20%. Now we're past the 90 yard line. Strangely enough argon is 5% and now we only have a few yards left to represent every other gas in our atmosphere.

                    Of that few yards, CO2 is roughly the width of the goal line stripe. And the amount it has grown since 1850 can be represented by the width of a pencil.

                    How can something as minute as the width of a pencil in 300 ft cause all this trouble?

                    But I'd still be after those trees! Whatever the source or climatic reason fire's a nasty business. We had so many going here one year you could see 'em on a satellite pic. Looked like a sore spot on the face of the earth.

                    SP

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                    • #11
                      How can something as minute as the width of a pencil in 300 ft cause all this trouble?
                      That sort of simile sounds reasonable and convincing. However, it is meaningless. I ask, how can only 20 millionths of a gram of the poison ricin kill you?

                      The answer in both cases is "because it can".

                      CO2 is a powerful greenhouse gas. The greenhouse effect does exist. Those are proven facts. What is in some doubt is the ultimate source of the CO2 buildup and the total contribution it makes. We know that at least some of it comes from human activity, we can measure it coming out of tailpipes, chimneys and factories. It used to be buried in the ground. How much comes from volcanoes? How much effect does it have? Are other factors contributing or even counteracting, such as jet contrails? We don't know for sure.

                      What isn't in doubt is that the climate is warming and warming quickly. The world is changing fast.

                      There is an ancient chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times". These are interesting times, without a doubt.

                      BTW, according to numerous sources the atmosphere contains around 1% argon, not 5%.
                      Last edited by Evan; 11-24-2006, 02:41 AM.
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                      • #12
                        Stand corrected on the argon. That was many books ago and I do get a little fuzzy on the details ......

                        But my common sense never seems to fail me. The amount of CO2 growth during the entire industrial revolution is in fact minute, and that "sort of simile" is merely a way of expressing it in terms that we can all understand, which makes it far from meaningless.

                        In fact, if we can all understand it, it becomes more meaningful!

                        It's an interesting subject and I agree, we don't know for sure. I can't say we aren't polluting the planet and really, we should error on the safe side. I've got grandkids ....

                        SP

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                        • #13
                          I've got grandkids ....
                          So do we.

                          The problem with understanding many effects is that they may not make sense if we expect them to operate in a linear fashion. Add just a little more salt to your food and it gets just a little saltier.

                          It doesn't always work that way. Many effects have a non linear scale of cause and effect. Feedback mechanisms may exist that amplify the effect when small changes in the cause occur. Stable systems are systems that have negative feedback. Increase something and it causes something to happen that tends to counteract the cause.

                          Systems with positive feedback operate differently. Increase the cause and it produces an effect that amplifies the effect. In some cases it can run away. We don't know for sure what happened on Venus but it's not that much closer to the sun and much less solar energy reaches the surface than does on Earth. The majority of solar energy is reflected by the clouds but it's 800 degrees in the shade there. The atmosphere is almost entirely CO2.

                          On this planet there are vast amounts of CO2 locked up in carbonate minerals and dissolved in the oceans. We know that if you warm carbonated water it causes the release of the dissolved CO2. There are huge amounts of methane trapped in deep ocean clathrate deposits that are on the verge of melting. It would really suck if we are adding enough CO2 to some sort of natural variation that has the effect of tipping the balance into a runaway condition.

                          The massive and sudden release of stored carbon from fossil fuel deposits is an unprecedented event in the history of the planet. This is the first time it has happened. What will the result be? I think we are going to find out. I hope it isn't going to make the place unliveable.
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                          • #14
                            Me too Evan.

                            SP

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                            • #15
                              Co2?

                              Heck, Scientist have known for over half a century it's caused by deep ocean tides...


                              ...Popular Science November, 1951

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