I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Slave Lake

The fire storm that decimated Slave Lake was incredibly traumatic for the residents. 
"It looked like the whole town of Slave Lake was on fire," said Courtorielle, who grew up in Slave Lake. "It was like it was out of a horror movie. I have never in my life seen anything like this."  http://www.edmontonsun.com/2011/05/16/resident-recalls-fleeing-slave-lake

It has happend before - in BC - in 2003.

Photo appropriated from http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2003/2003-08-25-01.html

And it will happen again. And again. and .... you get the idea.  Climate change models suggest that boral forests will be more susceptible to fire as the climate heats up.

The forests are getting warmer and drying out, becoming more fire-prone; they’re being hit by more lightning storms, which start 35 per cent of fires; and they’re being attacked by the mountain pine beetle, which is migrating steadily eastward, killing trees and making them more flammable.  “I think it’s consistent with what we expect from climate change. We’ve already seen increases in fire activity in Canada,” said Mike Flannigan, a University of Alberta wildland fire professor and Canadian Forest Service researcher.Almost annually, we’re crossing new [fire] thresholds,” said Brian Simpson, director of B.C.’s Wildfire Management Branch. “All the numbers speak to it.”h

So what's the solution?   
Population sprawl, the pine beetle and climate change are all affecting the fire season, Mr. Simpson said. And bigger fires release more carbon, fuelling a degrading cycle. Slowing climate change is the best long-term solution, Dr. Flannigan said. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/prairies/slave-lake-shows-the-increasing-risk-of-serious-forest-fires-experts-warn/article2030715/page2/
The Alberta governemnt  still seem to be living in denial, however .

Officials in Alberta, however, aren’t so quick to link their increasing forest fire problem to climate change.
“I wouldn’t relate [Slave Lake] to a situation where we’re suggesting that climate change is an issue going forward. I’d relate it to a one-off,” said Mel Knight, Alberta’s Minister of Sustainable Resource Development.
One - off situation, huh?    Does the fact that the Alberta government uses the royalties from oil and gas skew their view?  How many folks have to be evacuated in the nick of time before denial becomes impossible? 

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