Opinion | Hamilton: Of wars and forest fires
The World War I Centennial. French President Emmanuel Macron’s grip on world history is about as upside-down as someone who marries a school teacher who is 25 years older than he is. Apparently, Macron is not aware that France was, in part, responsible for the advent of World Wars I and II.
Macron seems oblivious to the fact that the United States had to rescue France twice from having to learn German. Macron’s ingratitude reminds one of: “Advertisement: Used French Army rifle. Never fired. Only dropped twice.” In fairness, French politicians, not the French military, are to blame for France’s sorry record for self-defense
Re: forest wildfires. There are steps that governments at the local, state, and national levels can take to lessen the occurrence of wildfires and also reduce the harm they do to our environment. Homeowners in wildfire-prone areas can help, as well.
What homeowners can do: When humans move into wildfire-prone areas, they should “firescape” around their homes, meaning clear the trees and brush away for a distance of at least 200 feet. Some states even provide grants to help homeowners bear the cost of “firescaping.”
Once a wildfire breaks out, electric companies shut down their transmission lines, rendering water-well pumps inoperative. Prudent homeowners have a back-up generator to supply power to well pumps, providing the homeowner with a way to wet down decking already soaked with oil-based preservatives and stains. When flying embers land on highly flammable decking, the fire quickly spreads across the deck to the walls of the dwelling and it is doomed.
What governments can do: Even without human intervention such as failing to extinguish campfires, automobile exhausts sparks, or sparks from electric transmission lines, Mother Nature starts forest fires via lightning strikes or even by spontaneous combustion. Therefore, if humans are going to live in or in close proximity to our forests, a certain number of forest management steps must be taken.
Trees, being a natural, renewable resource, have a life-cycle and, when they become too old, they fall, creating the dead-fall fuel we see burning up the forests in California and elsewhere. Beetle infestations add to the amount of deadfall. But deadfall cannot be accessed and removed without forest roads which the extreme environmentalists are hell-bent on preventing.
Once again, the Law of Unintended Consequences is in effect. While we can assume that smoke-free skies are the objective of the environmental movement, these uncontrolled forest fires have the opposite effect. While most everyone wants to see Bambi’s mother and the Spotted Owl live wild and free, our failure to manage our forests is killing wild animals in record numbers.
Government rules and regulations need to be amended to allow private enterprise (in exchange for permission to harvest the deadfall before it becomes useless rotten wood) to build a network of roads for the purpose of the timely removal of dead fall and for the purpose of allowing our brave firefighters to have safe access when forest fires do occur. Another approach would be to revive FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps (1933-1942), putting America’s youth to work clearing the dead fall from our forests. For sure, the do-nothing environmentalist approach is not working.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. Hamilton is the author of “The Wit and Wisdom of William Hamilton: the Sage of Sheepdog Hill.”
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