Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wildfires ravage homes and wilderness areas in Texas

News reporting is mostly about scams, crimes, and other negative aspects of the human society. When I hear about political scams, businesses exploiting workers, etc I just nod and go on with myself. It is only when I listen to news about gruesome crimes and harm to the environment that I get deeply affected. Since the past couple of days I have been listening to the news about wildfires that are burning several pristine wilderness areas in the State of Texas, US.

Nature, wilderness, forests, wildlife, and birds have so little left after what we humans have consumed, and now even their shrinking habitats are being threatened. The first threat is from the ever-greedy human being and then the next threat is mother nature herself, who rears up as floods, hurricanes, thunderstorms and sometimes as wildfires.

Every year during summer bush fires are common in rural Texas but this year it has been extremely severe. Texas has been suffering from drought which has limited water resources drastically. As a result the vegetation and forests have become extremely dry and susceptible to fire. This summer has been extremely severe thanks to the drought, temperatures have been constantly over a 100 deg F. I remember three years ago when I came here new if summer temperatures rose only to about 102 or 103 and that too only for a day or two. Unfortunately this year has not been so, triple digit temperatures have burned down for the past month or so.

Earlier this year in April 2011 Possum Kingdom State Park was consumed in a wildfire that devastated several thousand acres of pristine forests. Now in August, 2011 it is a repeat incident in which 6500 acres of wilderness areas have been consumed and the fire is spreading. Hundreds of firefighters are working hard, day and night to combat and contain the fire but in vain. Several residences close to the fire have been evacuated and now the residents are not sure whether their homes will be safe when they return.

What caused the fire? It is the dry wood from dead trees, twigs, and dry grass in the forest that easily catch fire in the heat of the sun. In countries like India where there are several hundred poor people who live by collecting firewood for cooking and sometimes to sell to others, the forest wastes are effectively used. In America there are no such abjectly poor people. Even the poorest of the poor drives a car and lives in a home with central air conditioning and heating, so nobody collects or uses the dead wood in the forests.

Moreover the state parks officials consistently maintain the park very well in such a way that insects and pests that eat dead wood and compost it can't thrive in state parks. This adds to the problem of dead wood and fire-susceptible state parks. The result is wildfires summer after summer.

I feel sad for the people affected and sadder for the animals and plants in the park that are now homeless, and perhaps lifeless too. Anyway I hope this fire doesn't happen ever again anywhere in the world and we can Save our forests for the future.

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