Circular Fire Arguments

The Eugene  Register-Guard editorial board discussed the impact of forest fire suppression on the Oregon State budget and some mechanisms for mitigating this impact.

No surprise that this is their big suggestion:

A longer-term approach would be to address a primary reason firefighting costs are so high — the buildup of flammable material in many forests. Thinning, debris removal and controlled burns all can reduce the volume of tinder. Such treatments are expensive, but so is fighting fires.

Sorry, the buildup of flammable materials is not primary.

First, the high cost of firefighting is due entirely to the fact that they fight the fires.

Many years of unnecessary suppression is the prime reason for the buildup of flammable materials. Letting the fires burn will reduce the expense of fighting fires, reduce flammable material, and help return our forests to health.

So, stop fighting as many of the upcoming fires as possible. To the extent that suppression must be done to protect private property make sure that those property owners are paying enough to cover  the protection service.


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Seattle Traffic

Danny Westneat has noticed that traffic in Seattle appears to be getting worse:

People who study the psychology of commuting theorize that once daily travel times reach an upper limit, people start to break. Other than a few hardy super-commuters, most people will move, change jobs or begin loudly agitating for political change rather than keep up with the self-torture.

Is Seattle about to break? Feels like it. If so, would we finally try to do something about the traffic?

Surely no one is surprised.

The good news will be if, yes, people are about to break and start moving or changing jobs.

Will agitation for political change will lead to improvements? Unlikely, but possible.

But not if the change he is advocating is limited to changing the car pool lane restrictions from two to three occupants. That is little more than a small bandaid on a massively broken system of which the transportation system is just one of the consequences.

Rather, fundamental structural changes are required and there will be no easy fix.