Where is The Comprehensive Plan for Forest Fire Management?
Most of the West Coast of the United States are experiencing unhealthy air quality for weeks from the wildfires in Washington, Oregon, and California (see image below: “PurpleAir”). Last week Wednesday, September 9th, 2020, we all woke up to a surreal experience, the sky above Mountain View, and the entire Bay Area was orange, raining ashes and burned smell from wildfire across the west coast of the United States of America. Inside the house was still dark as night at daybreak and it got worse as the day progressed. I thought this is how the sky on Mars would look like. The week before it was a heatwave with a temperature above 100 degrees Farenheight (~ 38 degrees Celsius) and the week before that (last week of August), the Bay Area experienced 10,800 lightning strikes which sparked 367 fires and more. We are experiencing all these extreme acts of nature in the middle of the pandemic (COVID-19) and global economic crisis.
I have been receiving calls from families and loved ones for daily updates and worried about my safety and wellbeing. I can only imagine what the people and the first responders impacted by the wildfire are undergoing and the folks that are still at the frontline for our protection and safety. To be blunt and honest wildfire in California is almost every year and there is no doubt in our mind people experiencing these calamities that climate change is the main cause. Until recently I was unaware that wildfires contribute to roughly 20% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions per year but then why is wildfire management not a top national & state priority!
Fire is a natural component in many ecosystems across the west coast however large scale intense wildfires are becoming an increasing concern. The Socio-economic impact is huge, from the immediate loss of human lives to the health & wellness of residents to the destruction of infrastructure and economic activities. It’s time to create a federal and state holistic fire management plan which will integrate climate scenarios, environment, health & wellness, culture, policy, regulation, bio-diversity, and socio-economic aspects.
Comprehensive Forest Fire Management
The approach to forest fire management should be systemic and it should encompass real-time smarter & faster-interconnected fire management taking into account different scenarios from climate, terrain, socio-economic impacts, human habits, etc. It requires a comprehensive lifecycle approach which includes a circular multi-phase approach such as prevention and preparedness, from detection to response and from restoration to adaptation. In each of these phases, there is a subset of activities shown in the figure below.