Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Innovation Inferno

I won't pretend to know much about the physics of large fires. But I am amazed that in the age where humans can instantaneously communicate with each other from anywhere on the globe, where we've created ways to manipulate our own DNA, and where we've gone into space multiple times, that we can't figure out a better way to fight large forest/brush fires.

In case you missed it, a huge fire near Los Angeles has engulfed more than 120,000 acres, has endangered thousands of people, and has cost the cash-strapped state of California millions of dollars in unforeseen firefighting fees. Firefighters are bravely confronting the blaze with traditional methods but have still taken weeks to control the inferno.

Now I might just be blowing smoke, but there have to be more innovative approaches that have yet been undiscovered and that will more efficiently and quickly fight large fires without further damaging the surrounding environment. Maybe the State of California and/or the Federal Government could subsidize Silicon-valley scientists and engineers to spend a small portion of their time and expertise to come up with useful solutions to large-scale, potentially catastrophic events such as forest fires. I could live with a few less iPhone or Twitter applications if in twenty years wildfires were no longer a global problem.
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