Friday, February 23, 2007

Adios, Amigos (2)




The environment in which I live is dying.
Usually this is a slow process, but on occasion it can happen very fast.
Here are pictures of the process happening quickly, the destruction by fire of the riparian cottonwood forest that lines the Rio Grande, known locally as the "bosque."
This fire burns as I type. High winds are blowing it in my direction. I don't think I have any reason to be alarmed, but if I don't post for a few days, don't be surprised.
This process began in the 1940s, when dams were built on the river to control flooding. Unfortunately cottonwood seedlings only take root during a flood, so no cottonwood saplings grew from that time on.
The last batch of cottonwood to take root, in the 1940s, are now past their maturity, and are slowing dying. They are being replaced by non-native vegetation such as Russian olive and salt cedar (tamarix), which are unsuitable for the wildlife that call the bosque home.
This process is only enhanced by wildfires--- although since most of them are deliberate arson, I hesitate to call them "wild." When this fire burns itself out, fire investigators will most likely find that it has been deliberately set. The arsonists never seem to get caught.
This is an odd thing for a person living in a flood plain to say, but we really need more flooding hereabouts.

9 Comments:

Blogger Foxessa said...

Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere, this goes on, the death of the environment one loves.

Just returned from the crown jewel of this nation as far as this is concerned, where the consequences are still in effect (New Orleans, Louisiana).

But when it comes to national concern and will, nada.

Love, C.

4:27 PM  
Blogger dubjay said...

Day 1 of the fire burned 3 homes and 7-800 acres of irreplaceable riparian woodland. At present (10pm) the fire is "lying down," but may spring up again in the morning.

The wind blasted as high as 50mph this afternoon, which made the fire essentially unfightable. After sunset the wind veered over 90 degrees and dropped to 30 knots, but if it picks up again in the morning, we may once again have a Situation.

10:21 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I am working as part of the team that is simulating natural flood cycles on the heavily dammed Trinity River in northern CA. It's neat. They're actually going in there with earth movers and rehabilitating portions of the river valley back to a semblance of the natural flood-plain state, and each spring they'll be simulating floods with dam releases. The size of the floods will be chosen depending on the year's rainfall and snow melt.

This spring was the first flood. They mis-judged a little and took out part of a road. But what's a road compared to an entire ecosystem?

Go flood go!

2:12 PM  
Blogger HaloJonesFan said...

I wonder about those who express such confidence in climate models, when we apparently can't even pridct the effects of flood control.

Of course, the true ecologist would focus on Man's Further Destruction Of The Environemnt, And If This Goes On We're All Boned, ignoring the fact that nature itself is showing how bad we are at predicting the future beyond lunchtime.

2:49 PM  
Blogger HaloJonesFan said...

See that? I can't even predict how I'm going to spell the words I write!

2:50 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

How's the fire today W? Still far, far from your home I hope.

10:23 AM  
Blogger dubjay said...

The fire must have died down, because there are no giant pillars of smoke on the horizon and the media stopped reporting on the fire as of Suturday.

But since the media stopped their reporting, I can't be =sure.=

Kelly, I wish you all success in creating artificial floods on the Trinity River. Every river in the Southwest really needs a successful program like that, though I suspect wresting water--- even excess water they're not using--- from the grip of the farmers will prove problematic.

HaloJones, while it's true that our ability to predict climate is rather short term, that doesn't mean that you can dump gigatons of CO2 and CFCs into the environment and think it =won't do anything bad.= It's not as if the effects of CO2 haven't been known for over a hundred years, after all.

It is of course true that even without human intervention, climate research now shows that climate can shift worldwide with incredible speed, and with drastic consequences for flora and fauna worldwide.

I don't see how that's supposed to make me feel better. We take a system that's already wildly unstable and start destabilizing it? How smart is that?

What amuses me is that now that the Right has accepted climate change, they're trying to =spin= it. George Will recently opined that climate change is =good.=

At least for people like him, I guess.

2:50 PM  
Blogger HaloJonesFan said...

dubjay: My point is that we've got people who've decided that it isn't enough to say "hey, wallowing in our own filth sucks, let's not do that!" They think that they've got to prove, somehow, that this isn't just dirt--it's a Mysterious Force that's going to Destroy The Whole World.

Because, really, it isn't about the environment. It's about contractionism; but if they just came out and said so, they'd immediately be dismissed. By pretending to rationality and ratocination, we at least give them the time to make their pitch; and it's hard to say no to someone with a colorful graph backing him up.

2:21 PM  
Blogger dubjay said...

We found out who caused the fire.

An off-duty fireman burning weeds.

When he was at firefighting school, he must have missed the class where they said, "Don't burn weeds in fifty-knot winds."

5:23 PM  

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