"Fire Weather" by John Valliant (Read 118 times)
Jimbo
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"Fire Weather" by John Valliant
Jan 31st, 2024 at 12:54pm
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Anyone seeking to better understand what is happening to the boreal forests (among many other places) regarding the ever-increasing danger from fire would do well to read this book.  The book focuses upon the tragedy that enveloped Fort McMurray, Alberta, (nearly wiped out the city) back in 2016.  It dives down into the fascinating (and scary) specifics of how fires are burning so much hotter with so much greater intensity and resulting in far more devastation than ever before and why this trend will almost certainly continue... and get worse, far worse.

Interestingly enough, this book was published last year, BEFORE the big fires of 2023.  Keep that in mind as you read it.  It is almost prophetic in nature. 

The author does a great job of telling the tales of people who fought the fires, survived, but whose lives were forever changed.  Vallaint's blending of first hand accounts and clear explanations of the solid science accounting for these modern phenomena is masterful.  It is a real eye-opener and a book I think should become mandatory reading for those folks entrusted with shaping public policy in Wilderness Urban Interface areas.  More importantly, those questioning "climate change science" need to read this work.  You might find your questions are answered pretty well within.  Fort McMurray is an undeniable case study pointing to where the world is headed unless big changes are made and soon.

This may be the most important book I've read in the last 5-10 years.  I highly recommend it for QJers who wish to better understand why our summer skies have become so much more hazy orange and brown.  We need to start looking at the problem seriously and change our mindsets.  Moaning about why the last year was "hottest of the past century" is the wrong way to consider things.  Start thinking in terms of why last year was COOLEST year of the next century.

I endorse "Fire Weather" in the highest possible terms.  It is a persuasive "call to action."  Read the facts.  Learn the science.  Do something.

Jimbo   Cool
  
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Old Salt
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Re: "Fire Weather" by John Valliant
Reply #1 - Feb 1st, 2024 at 12:27pm
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Yeah, I got to see and dodge those big fires last year enroute to Alaska. There were places I had to mask up due to the smoke. As I drove through Banff and Jasper, there were places where I couldn’t see the mountains that I had driven over 1000 miles to see.

Unfortunately, fire danger appears to be part of our new reality.
  
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Jimbo
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Re: "Fire Weather" by John Valliant
Reply #2 - Feb 1st, 2024 at 5:57pm
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Materials used in the construction of homes are so much more flammable than ever before.  I was amazed to learn to what extent petrochemicals are used with building materials versus homes in the old days.  Also, forest where black spruce is predominant (or has a heavy presence) are particularly capable of burning hot.  Where those type forests and green zones merge into Wilderness Urban Interface areas, the explosiveness potential of the fire goes WAY up.  Houses in Fort McMurray (a city of 100,000+) were consumed in less than 5 minutes time per house.  When you couple record setting extremely low humidity and record heat with a fire that generates its own weather (pyro-cumulus storms sending burning debris over a quarter mile &, sometimes, a LOT further), the results are devastating.  Northern forests are becoming tinder boxes.  Firefighters can't stay ahead of the fires.  In the case of Fort McMurray, hundreds of secondary fires advanced with the wind & topography and merged with the original fire and houses were exploding all around the firefighters.  They had to give up on fighting it on a traditional house-to-house basis and try to create neutral zones by bulldozing whole neighborhoods of houses in the basements of homes... and that strategy only had limited success.

The Fort McMurray fire scorched thousands of square miles and cost untold billions of dollars & wrecked thousands of lives (the mass exodus due to an environmental disaster in North America is rivalled only by New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina).  Yet this paled in size comparison to the fires of 2023.  Ugh.  There have been verified "fire tornados" in California & Australia in recent years (imagine flaming hurricane-force winds), a weather phenomenon that has never been seen before. Between June 25th to July 2nd, 2021, it reached 121 degrees in British Columbia and resulted in 562 deaths.  Things are getting truly weird.  John Valliant's book does a great job of laying it all out there and explaining what is involved.

It's an absolutely fascinating read.  Sadly, I fear there will be a lot more orange skies in our futures and, especially, in the lives of our grandchildren, as boreal forests become ever more arid.

Jimbo  Cool 
  
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Jimbo
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Re: "Fire Weather" by John Valliant
Reply #3 - Feb 4th, 2024 at 1:34pm
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Now that it's summer down there, Wilderness Urban Interface areas in South America are now feeling the heat (see: (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links) ).

It's hard to say if all the same factors at play in our North American boreal forests are the culprits down there... but I wouldn't bet against it.

Jimbo   Cool
  
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Re: "Fire Weather" by John Valliant
Reply #4 - Feb 4th, 2024 at 2:19pm
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As I drove through Canada, I was hearing on Canuck radio, a lot of criticism of the government policy of’
‘Let it burn’. They were doing almost nothing to contain or control the fires unless they threatened life or property. The problem seemed to be that by the time the fires threatened life or properties, it was too late.
  
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Solus
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Re: "Fire Weather" by John Valliant
Reply #5 - Feb 4th, 2024 at 3:01pm
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The notion that these fires can be controlled or contained is a fallacy. Might as well contain a hurricane.
  
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Old Salt
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Re: "Fire Weather" by John Valliant
Reply #6 - Feb 4th, 2024 at 3:34pm
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That’s pretty much my thought. My point is that those fires were deemed ‘government responsibility’. That’s what happens when the government creates the notion that they can handle/control everything.
  
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Jimbo
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Re: "Fire Weather" by John Valliant
Reply #7 - Feb 5th, 2024 at 6:54am
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In the case of Fort McMurray, part of the problem was the initial lack of coordination between the local firefighters (who had no experience with this sort of fire) and battle-tested Forest Service firefighters (who knew a little bit more but not nearly enough).  The confusion resulted in chain-of-command issues. Forest Service folks knew the tactics of the local crews were doomed but even when their inputs gained sway, there were only a couple strategies that made any difference whatsoever.  What had become a crown fire early on (worst kind of fire) kept  Coolgetting hotter & hotter, taking on explosive qualities.

This is one of the most fascinating & eye-opening works of non-fiction that I have read in a very long time.

Jimbo Cool
  
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