The sun filters through thick smoke from a wildfire burning near Los Alamos, N.M. Photo: AP
One good thing about natural disasters, such as forest fires? They’re great for pulling people of diverse backgrounds together to address the ugly aftermath of destruction, loss of life, lost jobs, destroyed businesses, environmental impacts, etc. The common interest comes into play, and people respond. They step up and do what’s right. But that bad thing is, this pulling together for the common good usually only happens after the damage has been done.
What disasters could be averted by people pulling together to address the threat before it becomes a life-or-death problem?
What about forest fires? Is there something we can all do besides wait for the next big burn? We’ve actively suppressed fires in US national forests for a century, as well as on our state and private lands. As a result, there’s simply a lot more “biomass” in the forests waiting to burn. It’s also becoming apparent that historically safe areas of the country, such as the Southeast, are drying out and burning more often.
There needs to be a workable substitute to expensive uncontrolled forest fires for reducing this inexorable carbon buildup: a profitable, market-oriented solution that not only addresses the problem, but also creates jobs, businesses, and a valuable new clean fuel product. If a pile of slash was worth $50 per ton, would anybody just pile and burn it, or let it burn uncontrollably in an overgrown forest, if they had a better option?
Wonder why we don’t have clean liquid fuel yet? It’s this same situation: we won’t get together to solve the liquid energy problem until there’s a crisis.
America’s federal government debt is growing $40,000 per second, and American citizens are sending $.65 cents of every petroleum dollar overseas. Every tank of gas or diesel we buy is clearly an investment in the wrong direction. This is another disaster in the making, one that we’ve allowed to happen because we’ve become a nation of consumers and not producers!
We haven’t stopped digging the economic hole deeper, in fact we’ve barely slowed down oil consumption as the economy has cratered. It is a deepening disaster of self delusion, propped up by the assets you have remaining. Your government is going to be hard pressed to catch you if you fall.
Perhaps if we got together to prevent a disaster before it happened, our beautiful country wouldn’t be in the shape it is today. The only thing that has to change is for us to end the denial and get to work fixing the problems we see around us before they turn into disasters.