Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
There have been three times more wildfires in the EU so far this year (euronews.com)
44 points by reddotX 66 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 26 comments

General reminder that fires are a part of the natural order of things, and if anything we've put too much effort into suppressing them.

Fire allows new growth, cuts down on disease, and gives the soil access to nutrients.

It also consumes fuel, meaning subsequent burns won't be as large. When you tamp down all naturally occurring fires, you set yourself up for an out of control blaze later on.

> General reminder that fires are a part of the natural order of things, and if anything we've put too much effort into suppressing them.

This appears to be a case of the naturalistic fallacy. Additionally, the article cites that the predicted cause of the fires is decreased moisture content in the fuel, not abundance of the fuel due to firefighting efforts.

It's also relatively accepted in US forestry research, as far as I'm aware. The policy (starting almost a century ago) of "put out every fire asap" worked for a few decades with increasing difficulty, but now many fires are simply uncontrollable and much more intense due to the increase in ground debris that would have normally been burned off far earlier. Oh, and that means that now we get crown fires instead of ground fires, killing trees that would have survived a smaller fire. Hooray?

This page [0] gives a decent overview of the US history in my opinion.

In short - no fires may be better than some weak fires, for certain utility functions. Unfortunately, no fires + time + not cleaning forests = huge fires, which are far worse than either.

0: https://foresthistory.org/research-explore/us-forest-service...

The article is about European forestry research. There's no indication here that those researchers aren't intimately familiar with US forestry research; however, they did provide a causal explanation for these fires (i.e. climate change) and did not indicate that any further causes needed to be identified.

Again, what you're saying, while possibly true and if true probably accounted for, isn't necessarily relevant, as climate change by itself is a sufficient explanation of this phenomenon.

Did you read the link at the bottom of the article? "Human activity responsible for 96% of wildfires around mediterranean basin"


I don't know how well we could generalize this - but IIRC that's likely the case with this summer's fires in Siberia too; couldn't find much about wildfire causes in the US though.

Saying "fire is good" doesn't strike me as much better than "fire is bad". Surely there are sustainable rates and unsustainable rates.

No fire would be great, but isn't possible

a very small amount of fire is bad, because it also isn't possible, it leads to large fire later which is bad

too much fire is bad because obviously fire is bad

Goldilocks just right fire is good

That sounds sensible, but what would a natural fire be caused by?

A droplet of water focusing the sunlight onto a point below it is the only thing I can think of, but then there is cooling water right on top of it, and as soon as that begins to evaporate the focus also disappears.

Edit: ah yes of course, lightning. Thanks everyone.

Lightning is a major natural cause.

Lightning usually

Lightning, I guess

Maybe in remote lands like in Australia but not in a overpopulated and exploited region like Europe.

It's disingenuous to compare a single year vs an average like this, without going into what the distribution looks like.

Maybe years are either very calm or have lots of fires? That would result in some years being much worse than the average.

Also, statistically, it's likely that in any given year, there will be some place in the world that is anomalous. You can't just pick and choose certain areas, going to a different spot each year, as evidence of a problem, you need to look at things globally.

This article is confusing to me. I went to EFFIS and looked at the 2008 data. [0]

There were 13832 forest fires in Portugal alone in 2008. The avg in this chart seems far less than that...

Maybe I'm reading this wrong?

[0] https://effis.jrc.ec.europa.eu/media/cms_page_media/40/fores...

There is a glitch in both charts on mobile (FF and chrome). For example, the first chart shows >2100 cumulative forest fires (contrary to ~1650 in the text). The value in the chart that appears if you click the data point is correct.

To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

I agree that this headline (data from a single year presented as a new trend) is useless at best or maybe even misleading (I haven't upvoted it), but from your comment, it sounds a bit like you are not convinced we are causing the climate to be changed. Not sure if that is the message you mean to convey.

I am not an idiot. Of course we are causing climate to change for the worse. I don't trust everyone out there though. Most scientist and media people have a self serving attitude. They just want clicks

> I am not an idiot.

Sorry, I didn't mean to say you were. It just sounded like a denialist might have written it (or might not, depending on the real intention), so I figured it might be helpful for you to know that, at least to me, it can be read both ways.

Indeed, anything can be scienced!

Meanwhile, this has been one of the coldest and rainiest Augusts in Central Europe for a number of years.

I think the point is "extreme weather" rather than just "it's hotter now". The 1° average warming that we're currently at (or whatever the latest estimate is) won't suddenly set forests ablaze.

I would to start seeing data analysis which charts how increases in temperature center (or don't) on certain extreme periods each year. 3-10 day stretches of extreme heat, cold, flooding, etc are devastating to many living organisms, and, as global warming kicks into gear, we should be tracking and publicly discussing biologically significant weather events and their trends and directly - rather than just hottest day, month, year. It's a good cross discipline area for biologists, geologists, and meteorologists to cooperate. When there is a major heat wave, the biological impact to the ecosystem, beyond the immediate impacts on humans in the moment, should be front page news.

Agree. I commented on a similar topic about flooding in this vein.

"It's 2c hotter" really sounds very benign to most people, I couldn't tell you what that would even feel like (do I know the difference between 25c and 27c?).

Extreme variance (and feedback loops) are far more problematic.

I wouldn't call that the rainiest August in years. I live in Central Europe and here it is the worst drought in years. More than half of the country has the highest level of wild-fire possibility..

(Talking about Poland here)

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact