Critical Thinking About Environmental Issues: Forest Fires, by Linda E. Platts
It is remarkable, as I write this, that the West Coast has been dealing with months of terrible fires, and earlier this year we had catastrophic fires in Australia as well, and no one appears to have a good idea of how exactly to limit fires so that they can burn in productive ways but not in unproductive ways that damage life and property. This book explores the thinking about fires and the study about fires and about their environmental benefits and how it is that there have been a wide variety of ideas and theories about how firefighting resources were to be spent and how fire management was to take place. The author appears to think, at least, that there are ways where fire could be allowed to burn in a controlled fashion that would prevent huge fires, and like many people has some very negative things to say about rural dwellers who live in fire prone areas and the politics of fire management, which is of vital importance because those who do not care about the lives and property of their voters do not long endure in office, which creates a strong incentive to fight fires even if it is spendy to do so.
This book is almost 100 pages and it is divided into five chapters. The book begins with a foreword and introduction that show the author’s point of view and likely attempt to gain support from a reading audience that is leftist and environmentalist and anti-rural in nature. After that come a discussion of whether forest fires are something new (1) or whether they are something that have existed and that people have dealt with for a long time. After that the author asks how forests should be managed (2), with a look at various philosophies involved with fire management as well as forest management, where the author clearly has her own bias/perspective. After that there is a discussion of whether fires should be fought (3), in which the author finds fault with rural dwellers and their reasonable expectations that their property and lives should be protected even where they do not have fire insurance, in many cases because it is not available (which the author does not recognize). After that comes a look at the Bitterroot Fires as a case study where a lot went wrong in the fighting of fires (4). Finally, the book ends with the author’s look at what is coming next (5), after which there are notes, a glossary, suggestions for further reading, works consulted, acknowledgements, an index, picture credits, and information about the author.
This book is a reminder, if any reminder is necessary, that firefighting is and always has been deeply connected with political concerns. Even those people who are not prone to like government very much at least can recognize that government has as duty to protect the lives and property of citizens, which gives at least a minimal level of trust in government when it does its limit accepted jobs. The author, though, does not appear to be of the sort who appreciates this, and questions the idea of whether fires should be fought at all, which puts her in a rather extreme position of not caring about the lives or property of rural dwellers at all, and thus not the sort of person who is going to be appreciated by those who appreciate life in the country. The author’s ideas about what comes next signify that she is rather out of touch with life and not prone to develop compassion or understanding for those who do not share her views about creation and how it relates to man. If this book is interesting for what it talks about, its perspective is definitely warped and biased in an unacceptable way.