What causes forest fires? It depends…

“We have left undone those thinges whiche we ought to have done, and we have done those thinges which we ought not to have done, and there is no health in us, but thou, O Lorde, have mercy upon us miserable offendours.1559 Book of Common Prayer, Anglican

Seeing the recent reports of massive forest fires throughout the Pacific Northwest, we wondered what the prime causes were. Humans are constantly being accused of causing all the environmental ills of the world, or globe as we are being taught to say. Why?

Perhaps due to the strong Protestant influence on our American culture, which attributes everything to us. This means WE control our destinies and our environment. It did not mean at that time (1559) that everything was hopeless because we were so bad.

We were capable of improvement! What a hopeful message in all that gloom.

In the lead up to this Morning and Evening prayer, instructions were that “the Minister shall reade with a lowde voice,the listed prayers. Imagine hearing THAT every time you went to church.

But, back to the original thought. Are the forest fires our fault? You know what Smoky the Bear says, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.” However, we also read that lightning causes forest fires.

Furthermore, we are assured by some environmentalists, that no matter what the cause, forest fires are good because they are “natural.” Human activity does cause bad forest fires, they say, because we act to prevent them, thus leading to really big ones.

If we allowed natural fires to sweep through the forest on a regular basis, the argument goes, the fuel load wouldn’t be so bad and older stronger trees would survive. This assumes that humans are not and should not be using wood created by trees.

The “real” answer is, as usual, more complicated and nuanced, as the following examples show.

In the example on the left, we see that 72% of forest fires are caused by humans, although we would add ag burning as well, since these are deliberately set fires to clear the forest floor in preparation for re-planting.

The website where we found this graphic is quite sketchy (no sources cited, no date on post), but we like the colors. Also, it is a general overview, and our own research shows that fires and their causes differ by geographical location and other factors.

Another, more reliable site, has this cute graphic. Note the dates and source of information. We’re already feeling reassured. You won’t get to read the full article without registering, but what is there is interesting. It is about British Columbia.

Note also that the bad guy is lightning in BC’s forest fires.

Now, for a COMPLETELY different view of causes of forest fires, check out this graph from Mexico!

It comes from a website that is attempting to create definitions of terminology covering deforestation and “other land use change processes.” It reads like a federal report and probably is, to put it kindly.

However, there is a sentence in the wordy and graphics-filled document, that we are going to use to close this post with. It contains what we believe is the definitive statement about forest fires, causes, effects, benefits, and drawbacks. Here the bad guy is agriculture. Still, it is definitely worth reading.

“The issue of deforestation in Mexico involves a huge disparity in the estimates obtained from different sources.”

In other words, consider the source and evaluate accordingly. This is true for investing in the stock market, or actually, any other material you may be looking at.


About InvestingforOne

I've been investing in various assets by myself using a discount broker for many years. Over that time, I've developed some theories that others might find useful. Plus, there is more to investing than money. Time, talent, work, friends, family all go into developing a good and satisfactory strategy.
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