Jul 24, 2009 | 5
He’s old enough to collect social security, yet he appears stronger and more hip than ever. Smokey Bear (sometimes called Smokey the Bear) will be celebrating his 65th birthday in August, reports today’s Los Angeles Times.
The anthropomorphic bear, according to the LA Times, was born of “ad men and government bureaucrats hoping to safeguard a key war material: wood.” And after World War II, the adolescent Forest Service icon continued to spread his message that “fire was an enemy that should be eliminated.”
But in the decades that followed, suppression of natural fires thickened forests—creating more fuel for even larger infernos. Critics pointed their fingers at the now middle-aged Smokey for doing too good of a job and not distinguishing between fires that were accidentally or intentionally set and those that promoted healthy forests. A change was needed.
Apr 10, 2009
Firefighters were mopping up today after wildfires swept through Texas and Oklahoma, killing two people and damaging more than 100 homes.
The Associated Press reports that a former local TV journalist, Matt Quinn, and his wife, Cathy, were killed and their son injured when their home in Montague, Tex., 80 miles northwest of Dallas, was engulfed in flames.
"Any time you have high winds and low humidity, it's just the perfect storm for wildfires, and that's what's happening here," Oklahoma Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood said, according to the AP.
The fires, which began yesterday, were fueled by parched underbrush (more than 93 percent of Texas is experiencing a drought) and 60-mile-an-hour wind gusts. They forced the evacuations of scores of people – and led to the shutdown of part of a major highway, Interstate 35, which slices from Texas to Minnesota.
Mar 10, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The excitement is building to a crescendo here as 40 top high school scientists wait for tonight's gala finale of Intel's Science Talent Search. We've been on hand to live-Twitter and to profile a few projects, everything from Splenda in drinking water to whether parents should discuss their drinking with their kids to cellulosic ethanol.
Here are some more of the highlights:
Feb 9, 2009 | 3
At least 135 people have died and authorities say that more than 200 may have perished in wildfires that have been raging in southern Australia since Saturday. The fires in Victoria and New South Wales have destroyed more than 750 homes and charred 815,000 acres (330,000 hectares), according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The Associated Press reports that more than a dozen of the 400 blazes ignited over the weekend are still burning; arson is suspected.
"What do you say about anyone like that?" Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Australian TV, speaking of the suspected arsonists. "There's no words to describe it, other than it's mass murder."
Dec 16, 2008 | 8
Thinking about relocating? Forget the proximity of good schools, trendy shopping and green space. You might want to take a look at a new “hazard map” of the U.S., which spells out by geographic region the likelihood of dying from floods, earthquakes or other natural dangers.
Geographers from the University of South Carolina in Columbia determined how common deaths from natural hazards were in different regions of the country, using information from the Spatial Hazard Event and Loss Database, which culls deaths and economic losses from weather in the U.S. (Here's the abstract of what some are calling the "death map" study.) They examined 11 categories of hazards between 1970 and 2004: winter weather (such as frigid temps and blizzards), mass movements (such as landslides and avalanches), coastal and geophysical events (such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis), flooding, heat and drought, hurricanes and tropical storms, lightning, severe weather (combinations of hail, wind and rain), tornadoes and wildfires.
Nov 17, 2008
The southern California wildfires that destroyed more than 800 homes and forced 50,000 people to evacuate since last Thursday continue to rage through the region. Firefighters will need at least several more days to get them under control.
The 800-plus houses, apartments and mobile homes were destroyed in four counties, according to the Associated Press. High winds up to 70 miles (113 kilometers) per hour are driving the fires, which have scorched an estimated 41,000 acres (64 square miles), the AP says.
The fires could be controlled by midweek. "If we were being very optimistic, we would be looking at the middle of the week," Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Dennis Cross told CNN.
Nov 16, 2008 | 1
Wildfires continue to rage through three areas of southern California today -- Montecito, Sylmar, and parts of Orange County -- having already claimed at least 800 homes, the Associated Press is reporting.
It's the third day of fires that are consuming some 29 square miles, fanned by Santa Ana winds that are expected to die down by this afternoon. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency in all three of the counties that include the burning areas. Many thousands have been evacuated, and the AP reports that there have been 19 injuries -- 13 residents and 6 firefighters.
The fires are also threatening Los Angeles' power supply.
Los Angeles was the also the scene of wildfires earlier this year. "It's gotten worse and worse every year. I can't keep track of them anymore," Capt. Leonard Grill, a 20-year veteran of the Riverside County Fire Department, told the AP. "These used to be the out-of-the-ordinary fires, once-in-a-career kind of fires. Now they're every year. "
Jul 25, 2008 | 2
Alaskan residents who watched as wildfires claimed a record 10,000 square miles (26,00 square kilometers) of land in 2004 can take cold comfort in the fact that the choking smoke endured during wildfire season could blunt some of the effects of global warming. Researchers from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) analyzed the short-term climatic impact of smoke from wildfires that swept Alaska and western Canada in 2004, burning 22,000 square miles (57,000 square kilometers) in total. They report in the Journal of Geophysical Research that the billowing clouds may have a cooling effect on the Arctic, where dwindling ice sheets have researchers worried about the potential for sudden climate changes to come. They say that smoke carried north on the wind absorbs some of the sun's rays and perhaps lessens the impact of global warming for weeks or months at a time, to a degree that depends on the soot's thickness, the sun's elevation and the brightness of the surface (ground or water). They note signs that the 2004 wildfires had atmospheric effects as far north as Greenland and the islands above Norway and down south to the Gulf of Mexico. The only hitch: Particles that land on snow or ice might actually cause it to melt faster. Still, NOAA says, it's possible the Arctic might benefit if the wildfires intensified—a distinct possibility as global warming leads to drier summers up north.
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