Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Global Burning!

The photos spotted on the internet showing smoke emanating from the numerous fires plaguing Greece caused me to wonder what effect these fires have on global warming. Supposedly, the most damage in terms of heating our immediate atmospere comes from active volcanoes. It is difficult to discount the apparent damage from such massive wildfires.

A check with the National Interagency Fire Center gives startling information concerning current large fires in the United States. As of August 27, There were 40 active large* fires, burning 1,780,254 acres. That's over one million acres. We are accustomed to hearing about fires in California, especially in drought years. This year we have heard about massive fires in Oklahoma as well.

The map directly above shows all fires in the US in 2007. Pretty amazing. One interesting thing to me, in evidence especially in the following photo showing smoke from fires in the Santa Barbara area of California, is the visible pollution in the form of smoke from those fires. The pollution from automobiles is different in chemical composition than that in smoke from forest fires. I see no evidence of automobile pollution, however. Perhaps someone will inform me of the reason why. The Earth Observatory website provides satellite photos from wildfires around the world. It's hard to understand why there is no mention of the effects of such fires on global warming. The large fires currently featured are those in California, Greece, Sicily, the Amazon, Montana and Idaho, South Africa, the Canary Islands, Southern Europe, Italy and Manitoba, Canada.

* In wildland fire terminology, a "large fire" is one burning more than a specified area of land, e.g.,300 acres.

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