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Archived Comments for: Estimates of CO2 from fires in the United States: implications for carbon management

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  1. Troubling public (mis)interpretations?

    maria gritsch, cal state university

    2 November 2007

    This is an interesting study. Unfortunately, the yahoo news summary of the article's findings may provoke misunderstandings, particularly where the summary seems to suggest that planting trees (as a way to offset carbon dioxide emissions) may have the negative unintended consequence of contributing to even greater emissions.

    Perhaps the most crucial step that needs to be taken, which is beyond the scope of the article, is better forest management. Instead of extinguishing every small fire, these need to be allowed to burn, as they are in many other countries with more sensible management. Allowing the smaller fires is one step toward offseting the major "century" fires. Of course, also needed are stricter zoning regulations and/or legislation to prevent or discourage housing development on the fringes of public forests.

    Competing interests

    None declared

  2. Related C sources

    Brian Schmidt, Committee for Green Foothills

    5 November 2007

    Interesting article - for policy purposes discussed in the article, it would be helpful to have an estimate of C emissions from firefighting (e.g., transporting firefighters and equipment, bulldozing fire breaks, use of aircraft). Relative to small fires at least, this C source could be substantial and weigh into the decision of whether to fight the fire or let it burn.

    This C source doesn't appear to be captured in the model the article used for estimating emissions.

    Modern firefighting in the Western US also involves occasionally setting very intense fires to create scorched-earth fuel breaks that are very different from mild prescribed burns (this was done during the Biscuit Fire, if I recall correctly). Separating C emissions from natural fires versus scorched-earth fuel breaks would also be useful for policy reasons, although I expect it could be difficult to measure.

    Competing interests

    No competing interests