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Forest and agricultural fires as factors in increasing of CO2 emission
16.02.2011 at 23:21

     ABSTRACT

      Two aspects of fires deserve our attention and those occur lately because of incurring of significant amounts of burning products, and especially in the context of continuous increase of greenhouse gas emission, that is continuous increase of global warming, so both of the aspects, due to consequences caused to this moment and those that will occur in the future, are getting global dimension.

The first aspect to be examined here are frequent fire outbreaks, caused both intentionally and unintentionally, while the other aspect of fires is typical for agriculture, where it incurs exclusively as a consequence of conscious /intentional/ acting of a human against his environment, and is a product of a tradition, which overcame the tradition a long time ago, as a trend of the local people for accommodation of their environment.

Basically, both forms of fire outbreaks, in terms of their incurrence and spreading, lately have enormous consequences for the environment and global warming due to AROGANT and extremely NEGLECTFUL respect of humans for his direct environment.

INTRODUCTION

Forest fires which regularly, year by year, incur in the Mediterranean part of the European continent, in

Australia, USA, and other parts of the world, are specific for their causes, regardless whether they incurred as a product of intention or without any direct human intention, as a consequence of biomass self-combustion.

In other parts of the world fire outbreaks also occur, but those are less present in public perception /among other, deforestation as well/ due to objectively poor presence of modern informational means. Those fires, which are allegedly far from us, also contribute to the increase of greenhouse gas emission, just like the “everyday ones”.

We are about to consider briefly several causes of fires that have not been taken for real or have been completely neglected to date.

It is the fact that the soil of these areas has enormous fire-load, and its existence is wittingly hidden under the carpet, which causes the consequences of such forest fires to be enormous, sometimes disastrous.

Earlier, that area has been far more economically engaged by the local people. They left these areas due to their passivity, and moved to big cities and industrial centres.

Pasturage of the cattle, presence of grass-consuming game animals, and extensive, but still ever-existing form of agricultural manufacturing, usage of biomass for heating and food-making by the local people have been considerably decreasing the amount of naturally produced biomass, which made the fire-load to be minimal and had prevention of incurrence of large fires as a consequence. If fires out broke even under such conditions, they would have been quickly localised by the local people, because their existence was endangered and they were aware of the danger.

Those cognitions have been passed to the next generations.

It can be concluded that due to such activity of the local people, the fire-load of the soil was very low, from today’s point of view, and, on the other hand, the action for localisation was in due time.

Aborigines which had been living in such areas that also were fire-loaded by enormous amount of biomass, periodically set on fire certain areas and controlled the fire by using a “saliva soaked finger”, which enabled them to know exactly when and from which side setting on fire should be started, and which natural obstacle will, almost certainly, limit or disable further expansion of the fire they caused intentionally. They knew uncontrolled combustion or auto-ignition may endanger their biological existence.

For the last 20 years and more, due to economical cost ineffectiveness for usage of that area, waste forest and grass material has been created and accumulated, which proves to be extremely suitable for incurrence as well as for spreading of fires. Professional fire marshals are also aware of this fact, so when judging the situation on the fire site, they state there is accumulated combustible material of great fire-load, and as a rule, order the fire-fighters to retreat to a safe distance.

The same issue is found with the areas which, due to development of coastal tourism and due to being outback, remained economically passive, lacking any control and having enormous amounts of accumulated biomass suitable for fire spreading /California, Portugal, Croatia, Greece, and all other Mediterranean countries/.

If an analysis would be made how many times and for what reasons during the period since last year fire to this year fire, a man entered the fire site located in the outback area of the expensive estates on the coast, in California and other countries, the conclusion would probably be – not a single time.

Fires incurred in this manner produce enormous amounts of combustion products, heat, CO2, blight and smoke, which makes them, since they, as a rule, incur every year, a significant cause for global warming, along with other causes /usage of fossil fuels, cars, etc./.

On the other side, intensive agricultural production as an aspect of profitable manufacturing has left these coastal areas inactive, without control. Small flocks of around 50 sheep or goats have become extremely rare. Biomass created during years moved the local people, which no longer do agricultural manufacturing but still are the owners of the land, towards so called “sanitary” combustion of overgrown areas disregarding the fact that has nothing to do with the tradition any longer, but it is rather their arrogant attitude towards their environment.

These people brought a conclusion that became universal and completely accepted by everyone – a single combustion of biomass does not have negative impact on the increase of CO2 emission that is climate changes. They did not think and still do not so that the emission of greenhouse gases is accumulating. It is unrelentingly summed. Their particular fire adds to the process of global warming.

I will highlight an example of every year practice of biomass combustion, old grass, in the area from Ključ and Sanski Most to Bihać, around 200 km2 of surface which is completely economically unused. This area is “sanitarily” combusted every year by few shepherds, and it is regularly done over a period of few days, producing clouds of smoke and ashes which cover the area for several days. “Sanitary” fires caused in such a way often reach forests, and are being extinguished only if they reach houses and agricultural buildings. It is necessary to say that other areas are not immune to this phenomenon as well.

May these fires be related whether directly or indirectly to the lack of precipitations during that spring period over the past few years, I do not know.

From what have been already said, several conclusions can be made:

- the fire-load of these areas by the biomass is enormous /waste wood and grass/,
- control of these areas is insufficient or non-existent,
- local people find solution in aeroplanes and other nice “toys” they think they can localise the fire without their direct participation, and
- discovering of the fires in due time is not as it should be.

The community has to find the answers in order to put these fires under control, and doing that would significantly reduce their impact on increasing emission of greenhouse gases and climate changes.

Building fire-roads, planting of particular fire-resistant tree sorts or sorts which prevent quick spread of fire, along with other conventional measures, are the obligation of authorities to systematically undertake certain measures which would prevent fires from incurring, as well as adequately and quickly localise the fires which already incurred.

Since we are here considering the aspect related to emersion of large amounts of biomass, the community has to find the way to significantly decrease its amount in the future. By free distribution of machines for chopping of branches and other combustible waste, and mandatory redemption of such produced biomass under subsidized costs will significantly decrease fire-load of the land estimated to be under the danger of fire incurrence.

By free distribution of machines for chopping of biomasses the indirect and smart way to get new quality, maintenance and pass ability of fire-roads, which are currently as a rule unusable, as well as to gain constant control over the territory.

Biomass produced in such a way would be used for heating or for production of compost which would be then used for improvement of the soil quality.

Why would not we be thinking about bringing game-animals to these areas as well, since they lived there for centuries, as well as sheep or goats, which would also be economically supported?

On the other side, by the judgment on local community level there should be made “red list” of the areas that must not be in any case left on their own. Should fires incur in those areas, the fires would be beyond human control and would gain the dimension of a disaster.

Legislative policy should be changed in a way that the individuals proven to be responsible for fire ignition, should be punished, beside stipulated punishments, also by voluntarily labour, so they would be obliged in the next 5, 6 or 10 years, or virtually every year, to spend 15 workdays afforesting the areas affected by the fire they caused, whether intentionally or as a result of their utter inattention.

The crucial aspect in incurrence of forest and agricultural fires is the lack of objective and timely observing and reporting. Observational stations with constant visual control and equipment for surveillance and signalling in summer months have to be organized, whether on professional or voluntarily basis. A good and educated observer can spot the fire during its initial phase from the distance of 15 to 20 km. That provides enough time for undertaking necessary measures for localisation of incurred fire and keeping it from further spreading.

CONCLUSION

A man has to cope with biomass, be aware of its existence, which significantly /maximally/ influences the fire-load of the endangered areas. Also, the man, that is, the local community has to continually and much better control his direct environment and to plan adequate measures of prevention in order to avoid the fires of catastrophic proportions, like the ones from several years ago. And that is not only to preserve human lives and material goods, but because they have such a negative influence on the process of global warming, which is over the last ten days getting more and more serious proportions.

We cannot make the people to go back in these areas to live, but we can and have to find the systematic measures which will be subsidized in order for the soil fire-load by the biomass to be reduced to a reasonable amount.

If the amount of biomass is not to be decreased in the areas potentially in danger by incurring of forest fires, the question whether the fires will incur should not be asked. The answer could be given right now, THEY WILL! I still do not know when.



        Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money?