Home Resources Education Water, Water, Everywhere--Except Maybe Where You Need It (Revisited)

Water, Water, Everywhere--Except Maybe Where You Need It (Revisited)


The Fort McMurray wildfire and evacuation have provided a shock to the system, to say the least. John Pennington encapsulates the shock and the pervasive impact of the event well in his recent post Ft. McMurray is on Fire … and it Matters to All of Us

So let's take a another look at contributing factors. These are possibilities that we've discussed in the past:

I think it's safe to say that it won't be very long before the books depicting wildland fire history will quickly multiply exponentially -- this particular wildfire will have much to teach us.

Revisited: Water, Water, Everywhere--Except Maybe Where You Need It

In the Water, Water, Everywhere post, we make the point that there is plenty of water that is still being evaporated from the oceans and rained down upon our civilization for our use--however, due to climate change impacts, this rainfall will be distributed differently, causing both floods and droughts--which in this case, could have resulted in drought that weakened the resiliency of the arboreal forest and endangered civilization as exemplified by Fort McMurray.

This phenomenon may not be 'new' per se, but it is definitely new to our enhanced ability--and responsibility--to forecast. So this event should not have caught us by surprise if we were doing our planning correctly and comprehensively.

In the Comes the El Nino post, the takeaway is that events that occur many many thousands of miles away are going to impact us in our backyards. Just a few short years ago, who would have believed that warm water in the Pacific Ocean could burn down a town in Central Canada? Yet that's likely to be a factor in exactly what happened. So now that we know, there's no reason for discounting causes of disasters--no matter how far away or apparently irrelevant they seem.

In the 'Wildland Fire History' post, we provide a multitude of examples where improper fire response resulted in unnecessary deaths. In the Fort McMurray fire, we appear to have learned valuable lessons from our past--for humans, remarkable in itself--and although there have been a couple of deaths, they weren't deaths from fire. That's a credit to our Heroes of Fort McMurray, whom I'm sure we will talk about more later.

So in your effort to become more qualified, more knowledgeable, and better protectors of the public overall, stretch your mind out to where you can encompass both distant and seemingly immaterial events, and well as lessons of the past. We really are capable of connecting dots at great distance, and we really are capable of realizing that we don't have to reinvent the wheel every generation. Let's make use of those talents.

Randall Cuthbert Dr. Randall Cuthbert is a retired APUS Professor of Emergency & Disaster Management. He has also worked as a Red Cross Shelter Supervisor, and spent a 20-year career as a US Air Force Civil Engineer Officer. His blogging interests include: protecting & enhancing the EDM profession in the areas of integrity, honorable public service, and social justice; education regarding the 'big picture' role of EDM in our society; educating our professionals and neighbors with regard to the greatest threat to our civilization--climate change; and in general terms, creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.