Fire and Life


I think there is something about fire that is intriguing. It should not be but while it is destructive and harmful, the way it dances is something beautiful to behold. I wonder if this is why we as humans try to contain it. I wonder also if this is why nature has been designed so often to set it free. I do not think that nature has its own will, only that it is a force of chance and the machinations of mother nature that allow the burning dance. 

So how does a fire start? Fire is caused by the rapid oxidation of a material that acts as the fuel for the flame, often using oxygen within the atmosphere to fuel the reaction. These materials can be things such as coal or wood but can also be smaller dry plants such as dry grass. This, at the ignition point, will create a flame, the visible part of the fire, the combustion reaction. Flames consist primarily of carbon dioxide, water vapor, oxygen, and nitrogen. While fire may seem like a primarily negative thing, the negative impact is often associated with the destructive nature of conflagration, however, this can have a positive and perhaps necessary effect on some ecosystems. 

For one, this may stimulate rapid growth and help to maintain many ecosystems. Fire can clear out underbrush as well as plants blocking sunlight. This does a good job at allowing for larger more established forestry and trees to take in more nutrients as there is less being drawn from the soil by other now dead plants. It also means that there is greater availability of sunlight in this ecosystem as less is being blocked off from the underbrush. In clearing the underbrush and crowds of plants, it may allow for more edible flora to grow in its place, establishing a new grazing ground for local fauna and making a more livable habitat for these creatures within the places these fires occur. The removal of plants will also mean that there is less water being drawn from the area, meaning more access for animals and plants. It can also kill harmful parasites and viruses that would damage the trees and other plant life and eventually kill more plant life than fire would. Not only that but the remains of the burned vegetation can also provide nutrients for the remaining life in the area and therefore has a positive impact.

There is something about any destruction that people instinctively fear. When things are taken away, we worry and we fret but sometimes we forget the old adage that ‘when one door closes, another opens’. Perhaps we do not personally feel the effects of that door opening, but somewhere, some form of life, big or small, sees a door swing wide open, opportunity and life fresh and bursting somewhere beyond its entrance for them to take and explore. I suppose another saying that applies is ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’ All that we see as bad and negative could be good in the eyes of another. 


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