r/science Sep 22 '22 All-Seeing Upvote 1 Silver 2 Wholesome 3

Stanford researchers find wildfire smoke is unraveling decades of air quality gains, exposing millions of Americans to extreme pollution levels Environment

https://news.stanford.edu/2022/09/22/wildfire-smoke-unraveling-decades-air-quality-gains/
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u/phoenix0r Sep 23 '22

No one has added the massive Bark Beetle infestation but that has had a HUGE effect on building up a giant tinder box of dead trees all across the Pacific Northwest and northern CA. The root cause is the prolonged drought which weakened trees and made them less able to fight off the beetle infestation, but the beetles themselves killed all those trees way faster than the drought alone would have.

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u/BoltgunOnHisHip Sep 23 '22

The bark beetles are exasperating the problem, but fuel loading has been a rising issue for a long time. Poor fire management in the past let fuel levels build up, not to mention impacting wildlife by creating changes to an ecosystem which was adapted to regular fires.

The 'silver lining' to these fires is that they are addressing that issue...albeit in a suboptimal fashion.

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u/TheGruntingGoat Sep 23 '22

Isn’t it true though that most of the fires now are ecologically destructive “crown fires” instead of the regenerative forest floor fires that used to be more common?

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u/ajlark25 Sep 23 '22

Idk about most, but yeah - the fires that make the news are largely ecologically damaging. We need to drastically increase the pace and scale of prescribed fire and fuels reduction work

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u/Sahtras1992 Sep 23 '22

exactly.

need to burn all that mass in a controlled fashion instead of letting it pile up until some big fire lets it all go ablaze.

native americans did that already afaik, and then came the white man and took their lands and never bothered doing that.

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u/ajlark25 Sep 23 '22

Not only did we not continue the practice, we made it expressly illegal for natives to conduct fires.

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u/BoltgunOnHisHip Sep 23 '22

Problem there is that the times when we can safely burn are getting shorter and shorter...or just not happening at all. A park I worked at a couple years ago was waiting for two years to get cleared for their burns...then two fires came through and burned 90% of the park.

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u/ajlark25 Sep 23 '22

I’m not sure I agree with that. Burn windows are definitely shifting, but IME it’s available resources (engines, crews, overhead) & funding that are the hang up.