Of course, there's no substitute for human arrogance an dignorance. We insist on living along earthquake faults from San Francisco to Tokyo. Folks love beachfront property in hurricane and typhoon zones. Italians rebuilt cities at the foot of Vesuvius. Cities and towns clog major floodplains all over the globe. We humans are so far above mere nature, right? And, out here in the arid West we're really cool if we build our house out in the forest. Cool until the heat and flames and smoke...
Yes, once again, California's ablaze. Here's a NASA satellite image of the smoke from the Southern California fires:
Nature's been burning the arid land forests of the Western U.S. for millenia. What's changed is all the people who think they can live in those forests. Might be safer to invest in junk bonds.
GREENTECH COULD HELP CURTAIL FOREST FIRES
One method long known to help slow or even limit the spread of forest fires in western timber: removing smaller trees and underbrush. This is hard, and expensive work that consumer both human time and energy. Now there's a suggested solution. Turn that "slash" and undergrowth into useful fuel. A National Forest scientist suggests turning all that cellulose into biofuel. That means the thinning process would actually pay for itself. And could make those overpopulated forests safer for humans and their homes.
The technology is not new, but the application would be: fast pyrolysis. Turn those saplings and underbrush into biofuel, combustible gases to fuel the continuing process and charcoal. Oh, and this process is being tested right now using a protable system that be taken into the forest, eliminating the need to haul the sapling and other foodstock to slome central location. Here's the explanation of pyrolysis in wikipedia.
Working with the Forest Service in Oreon on this demonstration project is Renewable Oil International. They're a biofuel firm based in Alabama.