Over the past two weeks, there have been a wide range of interesting fire articles. The articles below, taken as a group, are impressive in scope: from California to Indonesia, from fire science in a lab to restoration in the field, from serious investigation to dark comedy. Some of the news sites are small and local; others have international readership. The writers and their interviewees lament the loss of trees and homes, marvel at the way fire moves through vegetation, and take action to shape their local landscapes. Sometimes it is easy to think fire is only one thing–a fire in the hills of a California that destroys homes. But there are so many perspectives to consider in the study of fire. Here are a just a few:
International news focus on fires in Indonesia: until very recently, mentions of fire this year in the newspapers with national and international readership were almost exclusively about wildfires in the western US, mostly in California. However, as it’s cooled and begun to rain in California, a number of newspapers have shifted focus to Indonesia, a region not widely known for forest fires. All of a sudden, the Indonesian fires have become the subject of a wide array of articles, from this FAQ from the Guardian, to a human health-focused piece from the Economist, to a wildlife-focused one in the New York Times.
But the American west still looms large in any media roundup. Now that the ashes have cooled from the big fires of late summer, people are taking stock of the effects of fire and looking forward to the future. In this article about the Butte Fire, locals lament the destruction of not only human structures but also the forest and discuss erosion control heading into a rainy winter. In some ways, it takes the opposite point of view of an article I linked last time, which marveled at forest resilience and discussed the value of large wildfires. Both articles present an opinion on how we should perceive wildfire, even though neither article looks much like an op-ed.
Next up–three articles of the focused more on the fire research side of things: a discussion of erosion and wildfire, a tour of the exciting happenings at the Riverside Fire Lab, and a study of fire dynamics in the wildland-urban interface (WUI). In these types of articles, researchers are the main characters. It’s about the fire research itself, and less about a specific fire event. The researchers clearly care about fire-prone landscapes and the people who live there, but they focus less on whether big fires are good or bad.
Finally, one of my favorite pieces of fire media yet: an article from the humor site The Onion–it takes themes from fire ecology and applies them in a ridiculous and wonderful fashion to a completely unrelated issue.