Friday, May 22, 2009

Researchers call for the creation of fire science

VOA News: An international group of researchers is calling for the creation of a separate scientific discipline devoted to the study of fire. The scientists say there's a basic lack of understanding about fire, which impacts virtually every aspect of life on earth. Uncontrolled fires cause billions of dollars a year in damage to health, livelihoods and biodiversity, yet experts say relatively little is known about this primitive element and its impact.

In a paper published this week in the journal Science, co-author Steve Pyne and colleagues say there's currently no systematic, scientific way to study fire. Pyne, a fire historian at Arizona State University in Tempe, says a separate fire science is long overdue.

"Fire is an enormous large ancient presence and it has not been considered in our disciplines. There is no fire topic as a discipline. You know the other ancient elements - earth, air and water - all have disciplines devoted to them but fire doesn't," he said. Pyne and nearly two dozen other researchers compiled current data on fire's impact on global warming to underscore the need for a new fire discipline.

The scientists report that all fires combined -- from the intentional blazes farmers use to clear forest to the accidental wildfires sparked by both man and nature -- release an amount of carbon dioxide equal to half the CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels…..

The VR warehouses on fire on May 5th 2006 in Helsinki, Finland. Shot by Petteri Sulonen, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr,  under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

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