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Wildfires 2019 Thread

Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby Ibon » Sun 30 Jun 2019, 06:37:16

dohboi wrote:
If one species goes extinct from CC (which, more than one already has), then by definition, that species was more 'disproportionately affected by CC' than homosapiens sapiens has...so far.


Yes of course extinction is permanent. By disproportionate vulnerability I am speaking about the sheer biomass of homo sapiens on the planet and all our slave crops and animals. The graphs that KJ posted illustrate this. That sheer volume and scale of humanity is what is disproportionately vulnerable and ripe for correction. Read the summary of the book Plantagent just posted.

Consider any natural ecosystem and the rich biodiversity. There are a lot of species. Natural ecosystems are playing with a full deck of cards. Think of the transition between neighboring ecosystems and how external changes allow the ebb and flow of ecosystems to shift. The example of fresh water / mangrove habitat in the Everglades I mentioned above. Where in the human ecological landscape do you find anything remotely comparable?

Humanity and our few slave crops and livestock highly dependent on industrial agriculture and the infrastructure that supports it is very vulnerable. Humanity's deck of cards is sparse in comparison with natural ecosystems.
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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby Ibon » Sun 30 Jun 2019, 07:09:34

dohboi wrote:
Also, sorry that I can't remember if you haven't commented on this, but I am wondering if you doubt the overwhelming evidence that most of the previous mass extinction events were driven by global warming. Why would you think the the current gw event, which seems to be developing even faster than previous ones, will be less destructive to life on earth than those were (as you seem to imply here...but correct me if I am mistaken in that impression, please).



I mentioned previous that we have had 4 home grown mass extinctions in 600 million years. That speaks for incredible resiliency and stability in our biosphere. We also have these regular cyclical events like ice ages and warming periods that life has adapted to. In 600 million years, excluding asteroids, our planets climate and volcanic activity and the interactions of biological processes has resulted in only 4 home grown mass extinctions events.

Human caused global warming with increased CO2 levels has its source in our industrial activity. This is a tenuous temporary phenomenon. I dont know how much longer we are going to be pumping CO2 at current levels into the atmosphere but I am not optimistic this project of industrial civilization is going to extend that much longer into the future before the juggernaut gets reined in.

I recognize that global warming is going to upset the apple cart in our climate and that we are moving into a period of extremes. I recognize this will cause an acceleration of extinctions. I cannot however draw direct conclusions from this and jump to conclusions of high probability that we are heading for a mass extinction event. I don't think many serious climate scientists do that either.

And again, if the current rise of CO2 triggers unstable conditions that result in an acceleration of extinctions, this will not be monolithic and reduce our planet to total ecological destruction. It will be asymmetric. Which doesn't make it palatable. Localized mass extinction events is still in my book devastating and tragic. In fact, human caused biosphere degradation is deeply disturbing and depressing. It you have personal relationships with wilderness and the natural world comparable to ones I have had in my life it can be deeply sorrowful. So it is not with a light heart that I defend the integrity and resiliency of natural ecosystems. It is with full awareness that we have crippled the natural world on our planet.

The natural world's resilient ability to heal and its resilient ability to recolonize former human habitat once the juggernaut of humanity recedes is my mantra for maintaining my mental sanity.

This position is a combination of two important factors. My ecological knowledge coupled with holding onto that mantra to maintain my mental health. I would not be able to delude myself with just simple hope. The scientist in me has to build a plausible fact based scenario as a foundation on which I rest my case. Worst case scenarios always loom in the shadows. Between where we are today and a total mass extinction event there are many more probable alternatives.
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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby dohboi » Sun 30 Jun 2019, 14:28:37

OK, if you're gonna use biomass, I can at least understand where you're coming from, even if I still think it's the wrong metric. So thanks for that clarification.

And thanks for "I recognize that global warming is going to upset the apple cart in our climate and that we are moving into a period of extremes. I recognize this will cause an acceleration of extinctions." Good to hear that you acknowledge these sad facts.

But as for the rest, we are already in a mass extinction event, so we don't have to wonder about whether one is coming! :) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sixth ... al_History

And of course there is uncertainty about what the future holds...that's why it's called 'the future.' :)

But uncertainty is not necessarily our friend. It means that it is also possible that things good end up being much worse than even our most dire predictions (short of total annihilation of all life on earth, which I don't think is possible/at all likely until the sun expands to engulf the planet, for the record).
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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Sun 30 Jun 2019, 15:42:22

I have to point out that there is one difference that INVALIDATES comparisons between this current mass extinction event and all others. That would be that humans have intelligence, science, technology, mathematics, medicine, etc.

It is something that has no precedent AFAIK. At least I don't think any prior species had anything similar. The net/net of this is that we have options that no prior species ever had. I will save myself from typing by calling the above "our tech" for short.

Now I'm going to ask that you THINK about this next before you respond. NOBODY on Earth lives free from technology. Ibon on his mountain has electricity, internet, running water, flush toilets, and even uses a petroleum-fuelled truck to import food grown with mechanized agriculture. Just a decade ago, fully half of the humans on Earth had never made a telephone call. I have never heard an update to that number, but I believe it would be far lower today, on the close order of 10%.

Our tech pervades the planet, and holds the Four Horsemen at bay. Furthermore, we have the accumulated knowledge and resources to react to and end famines and pandemics pretty much "on demand". Wars are today smaller and over relatively quickly. Nobody has embarked on the fourth (Conquest) since WW2, and it's unlikely, with this many people and with such disparate cultures. (I don't know about any of YOU, but I personally do not want to invade and conquer anybody else anywhere.)

My points are two:

1) It is niether valid nor wise to compare the present mass extinction, due to the huge human overshoot population, with any other prior extinction. The present mass extinction has been ongoing for over two centuries, and is not ending any time soon. (That is of course still just an eyeblink in a Geological time scale.)

2) The option of running the ecology in a much simplified manner, using science, agriculture, medicine, computing resources, genetic engineering, and whatever else is required, exists. We are planning for this with frozen DNA banks, seed banks, and detailed records of the natural ecology that is so rapidly disapppearing. Meanwhile, we are NOT going away, the natural world is NOT ever healing, nor will this planet ever again resemble the appearance before we despoiled it.

Think of it this way. The human population probably has a peak value somewhere in the 10-25 billion range. However it is possible that the present value is peak and we will enter decline. It is also possible that 35-50 billion is peak. It is unlikely however that we will ever decline below that one billlion or so that would be the natural planet's limit if we were simply apes. Because we are not apes, we have intelligence.
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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby Ibon » Sun 30 Jun 2019, 19:43:18

KaiserJeep wrote:That would be that humans have intelligence, science, technology, mathematics, medicine, etc.
.


We also have the capacity for reverence.
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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby dohboi » Sun 30 Jun 2019, 20:05:58

If only reverence, intelligence, and humility suddenly won the day...but I see no sign of that at this point...Trump, for example seems to be the opposite of all those, and his ilk seem to be taking over in more and more of the most powerful countries.

As to Ibon's admission: "holding onto that mantra to maintain my mental health"

Yes, we all have to hold onto whatever mantras and stories keep us going. But we should be clear when that is the origin of our positions and versus when they are based on the best science and the best common sense and (sometimes rather brutal) honesty.

Best wishes to all in an uncertain future...
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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Mon 01 Jul 2019, 01:35:48

Well, still - even if we all acquired "reverence, intelligence, and humility", there are still 7.8 billion humans on a planet that could sustain a top of about 1 billion before beginning to die. They are already there, and they won't be going away quietly, they will struggle and panic and run amok before dying. It will literallly be a bloody inconvenience for all, unless you can go hide on a remote mountain like Ibon.

That's always the rub - the enlightened who recognize the approach of trouble, are always outnumbered by the majority that does not, and who will flip into panic mode.

Speaking of which, do not ever leave home without your towel. :mrgreen:
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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby dohboi » Mon 01 Jul 2019, 15:39:58

By my definitions, at least, truly and deeply humble, reverent and intelligent humans would not be likely to panic, struggle and run amok, much. But again, I see little of these qualities in much of the world, especially among much of the most powerful current world leadership.

In the mean time, we can all choose to live on less, consume less, and promote policies that lessen the enormous harms we are creating. Few seem to be willing to even take these minimal steps, though.
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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby dohboi » Thu 11 Jul 2019, 13:13:42

Satellite imagery shows most of the Yukon and the southern half of Alaska engulfed in smoke. Plant, are you seeing/smelling this?
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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby Plantagenet » Thu 11 Jul 2019, 15:14:19

dohboi wrote:Satellite imagery shows most of the Yukon and the southern half of Alaska engulfed in smoke. Plant, are you seeing/smelling this?


I'm right in the middle of it. The Air Quality Index at my cabin right now is 348 (Dangerous to breathe). Just a few miles away its 470. For comparison, New Delhi India, which I thought was a suburb of hell when i was there, is a pleasant 157 (Unhealthy).

To cope with the unhealthy air I've got two nice air cleaner systems going in my house.....a huge unit roaring away in the main room that can clean the whole house and then a second smaller unit in the bedroom that runs quiet and keeps the bedroom super clean. I got the large unit for free at my University surplus and I got the nice smaller on at a thrift store last year, so I'm lucky.

I've also got a military grade N-99 facemask that filters out the PM2.5 particles when I got outside, but I only wear it if I'm going to be outside for an extended period.

One unusual problem here is almost no one in Alaska has air-conditioning and our homes are all "super" insulated to deal with the -50 winter temps, only now every day its sunny and 75-90 degrees outside, so it gets really really hot in our superinsulated cabins, but we can't open the windows or we get the dirty air inside. Of course we can't actually see the sun.....except as a dull red glow through the thick smoke clouds.

I'm just holding on for rain to clear it all out. Maybe rain this weekend.

On the bright side, it doesn't look like we're going to lose any homes, at least in the areas around me. The fire services had people evacuate lots of areas, but we've hardly had any wind since the heat dome arrived, so the fires in my area aren't growing enough to destroy homes.....just enough to put out enormous amounts of smoke that never blow away.

The university has a lecture series every night in the summer....the lectures are kind of dull and boring......but I've been going every night just to sit in a air-conditioned building for a while.

We'll get through this OK. Thanks for asking.

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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby dohboi » Thu 11 Jul 2019, 18:53:46

Yikes!

Stay safe, P.

Meanwhile, it looks like even Greenland is burning!

https://twitter.com/m_parrington/status ... 4171094016
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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby dohboi » Fri 12 Jul 2019, 21:04:04

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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby GHung » Fri 12 Jul 2019, 21:41:23

Plantagenet wrote:
dohboi wrote:Satellite imagery shows most of the Yukon and the southern half of Alaska engulfed in smoke. Plant, are you seeing/smelling this?


I'm right in the middle of it. The Air Quality Index at my cabin right now is 348 (Dangerous to breathe). Just a few miles away its 470. For comparison, New Delhi India, which I thought was a suburb of hell when i was there, is a pleasant 157 (Unhealthy).

To cope with the unhealthy air I've got two nice air cleaner systems going in my house.....a huge unit roaring away in the main room that can clean the whole house and then a second smaller unit in the bedroom that runs quiet and keeps the bedroom super clean. I got the large unit for free at my University surplus and I got the nice smaller on at a thrift store last year, so I'm lucky.

I've also got a military grade N-99 facemask that filters out the PM2.5 particles when I got outside, but I only wear it if I'm going to be outside for an extended period.

One unusual problem here is almost no one in Alaska has air-conditioning and our homes are all "super" insulated to deal with the -50 winter temps, only now every day its sunny and 75-90 degrees outside, so it gets really really hot in our superinsulated cabins, but we can't open the windows or we get the dirty air inside. Of course we can't actually see the sun.....except as a dull red glow through the thick smoke clouds.

I'm just holding on for rain to clear it all out. Maybe rain this weekend.

On the bright side, it doesn't look like we're going to lose any homes, at least in the areas around me. The fire services had people evacuate lots of areas, but we've hardly had any wind since the heat dome arrived, so the fires in my area aren't growing enough to destroy homes.....just enough to put out enormous amounts of smoke that never blow away.

The university has a lecture series every night in the summer....the lectures are kind of dull and boring......but I've been going every night just to sit in a air-conditioned building for a while.

We'll get through this OK. Thanks for asking.

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When we had wildfires a few years ago I took a couple of cheapo 20 inch box fans and taped 20" hepa filters on the inlet side of the fans (standard filters for home furnaces). I sealed them in windows and ran them on low. Worked really well at pressurizing the house with filtered, fairly fresh, air.
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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby Plantagenet » Fri 12 Jul 2019, 22:22:28

GHung wrote: I took a couple of cheapo 20 inch box fans and taped 20" hepa filters on the inlet side of the fans (standard filters for home furnaces). I sealed them in windows and ran them on low. Worked really well at pressurizing the house with filtered, fairly fresh, air.


Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately........

Building practices are a lot different in Alaska because of the extremely cold temps in the winter. The goal in Alaska is make a house "super insulated" in order to keep it as warm as possible AND to reduce the high costs of heating through the long winter. Many newer homes have mostly small built-in windows that can't be opened at all. That keeps air leaks through the window frames to a minimum. On the few days in the summer when its hot you can open the door or go outside and cook on the deck.

When homes do have larger windows they usually can't be opened. Standard windows that slide up and down in the frame tend to be loose in the frame and they can't be sealed and closed completely in the winter. They tend to leak cold air around the window, and also around the edge of the frame where it is built into the house. Even a small leak, when its -50°F outside, can turn into an icy patch on the inside of the window, chilling part of the room.

So if we want a window that opens we prefer to use triple pane windows that pivot to the side and can be cranked open in summer, and then cranked tightly shut in winter. Standard fans and air-conditioners don't fit in this kind of window because there is no rectangular opening for them to be put into when the window is cranked open.

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Alaskan cabins often don't have a lot of windows and the windows are usually built so they can't be opened.

--------------
Wildfire update........well, we finally got some rain today. The Air Quality index has dropped from ca. 375 down to 180, but that is still in the "unhealthy" range. You'd think rain would sweep the smoke right out of the air, but the PM 2.5 particles are so tiny they stay in the air even after a rain.

Damn! We need lots more rain!

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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby GHung » Sat 13 Jul 2019, 09:49:07

In our area all living spaces must have two means of egress, especially bedrooms, which generally means a door and a window that opens. I suppose you could break the window out if you are trapped by a house fire, but that won't pass code here. Of course, if you live where there are no codes ......
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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby Plantagenet » Sat 13 Jul 2019, 12:23:56

GHung wrote:In our area all living spaces must have two means of egress, especially bedrooms, which generally means a door and a window that opens. I suppose you could break the window out if you are trapped by a house fire, but that won't pass code here. Of course, if you live where there are no codes ......


Exactly right. There are no building codes in most of Alaska. In many places people buy a few acres and then go out in the spring and start chopping down trees and building themselves a cabin. If they are building a larger frame house they might finish off one room and then live in that until the rest gets done.

Of course normal houses do get built, mostly by small contractors who build one at a time, sell it, and then use the profits to build another house on spec.

All those people building non-standard houses and cabins scattered out in the forests in one of the reasons wildfires in Alaska can be so dangerous. The forests go for hundreds of miles through land that is complete wild and natural and then, just around the few roads that exist there is a lace of roads going out into the forests with cabins scattered here and there, but its still 99% forest. The really dangerous wildfires start by lightning strikes out in the forest and the authorities usually just let them burn. Its only when they approach some cabins somewhere that the fire-fighting starts, and by that time you've got this huge fire covering many thousands of acres roaring down on some poor people in their cabins.

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Way off in the distance behind the fire I see a road. I'l betl there are some cabins there so its time to start fighting this fire
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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby Tanada » Sat 13 Jul 2019, 13:29:00

While property damage and deaths are tragic wildfires are a very necessary part of the ecology of forests. Letting them burn where they are not threatening humans directly is absolutely the proper response. This is especially true in the face of climate change in the Taiga belt world wide. The existing forests at least in parts of this vast region are no longer the most ecologically appropriate plant and animal communities in those regions. After a large fire the better suited plant community has an opportunity to take over the portions of the forest where they can now thrive, something that the prior forest was preventing by its very stability. This is not to say we should run around starting a bunch of fires, but fire is a necessary part of the ecosystem so we should not run around extinguishing fires either.
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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby Plantagenet » Sat 13 Jul 2019, 19:33:14

Tanada wrote:While property damage and deaths are tragic wildfires are a very necessary part of the ecology of forests. Letting them burn where they are not threatening humans directly is absolutely the proper response. This is especially true in the face of climate change in the Taiga belt world wide. The existing forests at least in parts of this vast region are no longer the most ecologically appropriate plant and animal communities in those regions. After a large fire the better suited plant community has an opportunity to take over the portions of the forest where they can now thrive, something that the prior forest was preventing by its very stability. This is not to say we should run around starting a bunch of fires, but fire is a necessary part of the ecosystem so we should not run around extinguishing fires either.


Thats a nice idea in theory but in practice state governments and the federal government decide on a case-by-base basis which fires to let burn and which ones to fight.

In 2017 the federal government spent about 2.5 billion on fire suppression. Unfortunately the fires are seemingly getting worse and worse due to years of warm dry conditions in many areas, and more and more money is needed.

the-government-is-running-out-of-money-to-fight-californias-wildfires

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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby dohboi » Sat 13 Jul 2019, 21:56:39

It's not clear whether the wild fires in Alaska and the Arctic in general are entirely 'natural' this year. There's been a huge spike in fires all around the Arctic this June...not a great sign:


https://insideclimatenews.org/news/1107 ... ty-funding


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Re: Wildfires 2019 Thread

Unread postby dohboi » Sun 14 Jul 2019, 00:36:21

More on the same:


Arctic wildfires emitted as much CO2 in June as Sweden does in a year


Wildfires this year have been at an unusual intensity despite being common in the northern hemisphere between May and October


https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/ ... 1yzX8-ZsRQ
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