Wildfires

Overview

A dangerous combination of weather, flame, and human activity, wildfires are a menace that threatens lives, destroys property, and torches immense areas. Whole towns may vanish in the flames. Dozens of lives can be lost in minutes. The most destructive wildfires, like historic hurricanes and earthquakes, scar both the land and human memory for generations.

Despite advances in firefighting and science, wildfires have intensified in recent years. The reasons are many. ...

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Overview

A dangerous combination of weather, flame, and human activity, wildfires are a menace that threatens lives, destroys property, and torches immense areas. Whole towns may vanish in the flames. Dozens of lives can be lost in minutes. The most destructive wildfires, like historic hurricanes and earthquakes, scar both the land and human memory for generations.

Despite advances in firefighting and science, wildfires have intensified in recent years. The reasons are many. Fire-prevention policies have had the ironic result of creating hotter, bigger events. Human settlements continue to encroach on fire-prone wilderness. Shifts in weather related to climate change lead to drought and temperature extremes that turn forests and grasslands into tinderboxes.

Extreme Threats: Wildfires looks at the wildfire phenomenon in both history and today's world-the science and the mythology, the causes and possible solutions, and the ways human beings seek to survive, understand, and even profit from these extraordinary disasters.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Just pick up the newspaper or look at news on TV or the Internet and chances are that you will read about a wildfire somewhere in the world. The role of fire in human development cannot be underestimated. Man has long recognized fire's power to destroy as well as create. The focus in this book is wildfires "a fire that takes place in an undeveloped wild area." Wildfires have occurred in nature for 400 million years. It is only recently that people consider them national disasters, because they have built in areas which are conducive to burning. Cunningham relates accounts of wildfires that did incredible damage and describes how a number of forces combined to create a raging inferno including a fire whirl. The summer of 1871 was a particularly bad time in the West and Upper Midwestern United States with fierce fires destroying property and killing thousands of people. Another year of great fires occurred in 1910 when more than 85 people died and 3 million acres burned. When added to other fires that summer more than 20 million acres burned. After these events, the U.S. Forest Service adopted a zero-tolerance approach—keep fires under control. There were critics of this policy since natural fires were not burning off vegetation and the fires that did occur were more destructive. Today there are factors beyond policy—slash and burn farming in the Amazon, weather changes and decreases in precipitation—that contribute to wildfires. Cunningham addresses the harm to people and the environment and is pretty clear that he believes that climate change is a significant factor. The book ends with his recommended actions, a timeline of major fires, source notes, glossary, bibliography, web sites, index, and picture credits. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
VOYA - Spring Lea Henry
These books dealing with natural disasters on Earth read like the narration from a special on the Discovery Channel, and that is not a bad thing! The writing is very accessible to all ages, although younger readers may struggle a bit with some of the vocabulary. The subject matter and exciting presentation, however, will probably encourage them to try harder, making these an excellent choice for building reading skills. The glossary in each book should also help with unfamiliar terms. The well-crafted narrations are augmented with firsthand accounts from eyewitnesses, as well as numerous color photographs. Each book features a time line that includes both the disasters themselves and important discoveries and other happenings pertaining to those events. Wildfires uses several specific examples to explain the challenges all firefighters face when trying to protect lives and property, as well as worst-case scenarios that can be created by weather and poor preparation. Particular attention is paid to the Peshtigo Fire of 1871. A full chapter describes that catastrophe, which killed between eight hundred and two thousand people. Like the other books in the series, this one ends with some predictions for humanity's relationship with this natural danger going into the future. (Extreme Threats) Reviewer: Spring Lea Henry
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up–These excellent books detail familiar perils whose deadly potential students may not fully realize. The first chapter of each title opens with a gripping description of an event, related in a way that will draw readers in and that provides plenty of accessible science. A breathless account of the 1871 Peshtigo, WI, disaster in Wildfires, for example, includes information on the physics of a fire whirl. Black-and-white and color photographs on almost every page add to the drama. To varying degrees, the titles cover phenomena that are the subject of scientific and/or social debate. The authors describe both sides of the controversies, providing evidence for why mainstream science is right. Frequent sidebars, covering as much as a spread, discuss peripheral and often unusual information. The conclusion of each title explains what scientists are doing, or what they anticipate doing, to ameliorate the threat. The titles close with extensive chapter notes; those in Wildfires are especially extensive.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599351209
  • Publisher: Morgan Reynolds, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/28/2009
  • Series: Extreme Threats Series
  • Pages: 112
  • Age range: 12 - 15 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Peshtigo: Wildfire in Action 8

2 California: Living Near Wildfire 26

3 Weather and Wildfire 45

4 The Challenges Ahead 65

Timeline 86

Souces 88

Glossary 92

Bibliography 94

Web Sites 106

Index 108

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