How The 2011 British Columbia Fire Could Kill 100 Million People

It would at first seem impossible in an age of North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons, widespread economic collapse, and ever-heightening global tensions that the single greatest threat to the population of the North American continent would be posed by a beetle the size of a grain of rice.

Yet the Mountain Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae), a tiny little bug which likes to bore into the sides of pine trees and literally suck the life out of them in as little as two weeks, is definitely the greatest current threat to North American populations.

How can a tiny little bug kill 100 million people? No, not by direct infestation or any other way one might believe, but in triggering an insidious and unstoppable series of devastating ecological events.

Mountain pine beetles primarily attack the Ponderosa Pine, Scots Pine, Lodgepole Pine, and Limber Pine, killing them by boring a hole through the bark and into the phloem layer, which is the living tissue of the tree. The beetles feed on the sucrose generated by the tree and lay their eggs in the vascular system carrying the nutrients. Female beetles begin the attacks on the trees and produce pheromones to attract a vast number of additional beetles to result in a mass attack.

In about two weeks the pines are mortally damaged as the phloem layer is injured to the degree that the flow of water and nutrients to the tree is cut off and the trees starve to death.

The destruction can be easily seen from aerial photographs as previously green trees have died and become reddish-gray.

Mountain pine beetles love warmth and hate cold, thus particularly long and hot summers can lead to the beetle population increasing exponentially, which leads to the deforestation of enormous areas.

Currently 60% of the entire area of British Columbia consists of mountain pine beetle killed trees, and this infestation spreads by the day. This unprecedented destruction is expected to reach 80% soon.

To put this into perspective, the area covered by dead trees in British Columbia is now approximately the size of the entire states of California and New York combined!

No effective way to kill the mountain pine beetle exists. The beetle can only be burned out or frozen out. Given the extent of the infestation and the presence of the beetle in virtually all the forests surrounding cities and towns that are home to millions of people, it is not possible to just turn all those forests into cinders in controlled burns conducted by Forestry personnel.

The beetle population has been kept in check in the past by cold winters. Although they produce a natural anti-freeze solution in their bodies, beetles cannot survive temperatures down below -40 F (-40 C) for an entire night, or sustained temperatures of -25 F (-32 C) for several days in a row.

These temperatures were fairly common in the rigid winters of the British Columbia Interior up until a few years ago. Climate change has warmed the winters in the region to the point where the critical thresholds to kill off the beetles are not consistently reached, and thus the population of the insects is allowed to grow unchecked.

Adult beetles within the phloem of a pine tree
Adult beetles within the phloem of a pine tree
The beetle's larvae inside the tree
The beetle's larvae inside the tree

The British Columbia climate is strongly affected by the El Nino and La Nina Pacific Ocean water temperature oscillations. A good rule of thumb is that El Nino brings dry, warm weather, and La Nina provides cold and high precipitation to the province.

During the winters of 2008 and 2009, British Columbia had been under the influence of La Nina, creating colder winters than usual, and this has not slowed down the spread of the mountain pine beetle as the cold was just short of the critical threshold in much of the province.

The situation that may likely present itself in the upcoming months is one that might provide a "Perfect Storm" for unprecedented ecological devastation.

If the forecasts are correct, the summer of 2011 will be much hotter than usual. Temperatures through late May and early June in the Thompson - Okanagan region of the British Columbia Interior have already exceeded seasonal averages by as much as 18 F (10 C), and the 14 day trend until the end of June shows that this heat will continue undimished. Daytime highs have already reached well over 90 F (32 C) and this extremely unseasonable hot, dry weather shows no sign of letting up. The southern Okanagan town of Osoyoos has already seen 95 F (35 C) temperatures and it's still Spring! Considering that this region regularly sees summer temperatures well in excess of 100 F (38 C), this season could certainly be one for even more massive mountain pine beetle spread.

Whatever one might think about dead pine trees and their effect on the ecosystem and the collapsing Canadian forest industry, the most important factor is that dead trees are dry trees, and dry trees burn: Fast.

As I write this, there are over 80 square miles (20,000 hectares) aflame in British Columbia, primarily in two massive fires: The one at Tyaughton Lake, 40 miles (65 km) west of Lillooet is barely 50% contained and continues to spread, while the fire east of Smith River and the Liard River Junction along Highway 97 is effectively not contained at all.

The "Perfect Storm" scenario would call for a subsequent winter with above seasonal temperatures where the temperatures do not fall below -40 F (-40 C) for an entire night, or the sustained temperatures of -25 F (-32 C) for several days in a row are not reached: this is extremely likely if not outright certain given the El Nino dynamical models at this time.

By next summer, the British Columbia forests which cover almost every square mile of the entire province would be tinder dry and massively devastated by mountain pine beetle attacks. It is certainly conceivable that by August 2011, 70% or more of all of British Columbia would consist of dry, dead trees.

A lightning strike, a neglected campfire, or even just a tossed cigarette could begin the fires burning and they might soon reach a critical mass where they can no longer be contained and they would start combining with each other, reaching hundreds and then thousands of square miles. Not only is there not enough firefighter personnel available in all of North America that is trained to confront fires of this magnitude, but there is not enough equipment such as water bombers to handle fires on this massive a scale. All that can be done is to evacuate and pray for a huge rainstorm.

What happens next exists so far only in abstract computer models. The firestorm begins to feed on itself as temperatures reach levels far above any previously known forest fires. The massive heat and smoke set up vertical convection currents which fuel the fire with even more oxygen until the majority of British Columbia is aflame. These convection currents are so strong and active over such a huge area that they actually steer the jetstream away and to the north, thus redirecting any low pressure systems that could bring much needed rain up into the Yukon and away from the fire itself.

This inconceivable fire not only totally destroys the cities of Prince George, Kamloops, Kelowna and the entire Interior of British Columbia, but the effects of the fire start to spread across the continent, given the prevailing summer winds which blow towards the east and south east.

Although the fire itself does not spread much beyond provincial borders, the amount of smoke and ash which shot high up into the atmosphere by the massive vertical convection currents blacken the sky as far east as Montreal and as far south as Tulsa. These fires continue right through October when more frequent rains heading in from the Pacific finally overcome the inferno and begin to douse it, although it still glows in embers right through December.

By autumn, the area affected by the gargantuan smoke cloud which has blocked the sun for months and deposited a layer of ash which in some areas is several feet thick, experiences total ecological collapse. The lack of sunshine and the layer of ash halts photosynthetic processes in most of the huge region which takes up most of Canada and the northern United States, breaking down the food chain. Insects, birds, mammals, and then people starve: a scenario not too different from the "nuclear winter" scenario that is believed to have been responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

The recent Okanagan Lake fire may be just a mere precursor to a massive fire that could engulf most of British Columbia
The recent Okanagan Lake fire may be just a mere precursor to a massive fire that could engulf most of British Columbia

Although many more areas are affected, the states of Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, North & South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario are within the Ecological Collapse Zone, thus become uninhabitable. There is no evacuation plan and no possible way to save the majority of the people who live in these areas and thus most will die: as many as 100 million.

This is not just a pie in the sky theoretical scenario: It is happening right now in British Columbia and all signs from the researchers at the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Environment Canada indicate that El Nino is returning within weeks and might be extraordinarily powerful, setting up a situation where these potential massive forest fires become indisputable.

The forest fire that consumes most of British Columbia could very well happen, and it is quite likely to occur by next summer. The ecological devastation it would cause is literally unthinkable. Yet we do have to think about it now if we have any chance of evading the overwhelming destruction that will be wrought by this little bug the size of a grain of rice.

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Comments 101 comments

TKIMWRSVC profile image

TKIMWRSVC 7 years ago from United States

as always inciteful and educational

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks! I appreciate your kudos! :)

Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

OMG again. Where do we run to?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

If those fires spark up in British Columbia the Southern Hemisphere would be the only place even remotely safe. Let's just pray for rain and lots of it in B.C.!

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 7 years ago from Bristol

A very interesting and insightful hub. Guess it just goes to show the dangers of global warming (whether man-made or not).

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks! I cannot conclusively claim as to what the source of global warming is, and I somehow doubt that we will ever know the true cause. However, looking at the long term forecast for the Thompson - Okanagan region, it calls for temperatures in about a week to reach 102 F (39 C). When we consider that this area is in Canada near the 50th parallel and nowhere near Arizona that is completely outrageous heat for so early in the season.

nicomp profile image

nicomp 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

How do you get your hubs indexed so quickly?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

I've actually written several Hubs about it. Check for Google Elevator. It's not all up to me, it's mostly Google that just seems to love HubPages. The speed and extent of Google indexing has to be one of the best if not the best thing about this website.

sbyholm profile image

sbyholm 6 years ago from Finland

I doubt the ecosystem would give in that easily, it's pretty good at comebacks.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I'm not so sure. I've travelled extensively through the B.C. Interior and the situation there is absolutely dire. I've driven for hundreds of miles through tinder dry forests that are literally standing kindling. I was also there during the huge fires of last summer which were damn scary. Regardless, I certainly hope that this never happens.

Patty 6 years ago

I also have driven thru B.C from Prince Rupert to Washington State. 7 years ago it was breath taking beauty. 2 years ago I was stunned to see what I did and how fast spreading all through B.C. It is quite devasting and the fires are going to be a serious problem for the wonderful folks that live there.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I most definitely agree. The situation is dire to say the least!

kevin 6 years ago

Wow!! you have truly lost it if you believe this crap!! They are just dead trees...a completely normal natural process, no doubt accelerated by human activities. It seems like a big stretch to predict that time of an outcome!

CaryBoy profile image

CaryBoy 6 years ago from Glendale, AZ

Very interesting...we had the same problem in North Carolina with the pine bore beetle when our winters were too warm. I'm not sure I understand why our winter temperature kept the beetles down when our coldest temperatures were much warmer than BCs warmest. I'd hate to see Kamloops burned, I spent a couple days there once and fell in love with the place and people. I remember the rows upon rows of hops.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

kevin, you're out of your mind. What is happening in BC is nowhere near "normal." Go play in the street.

CaryBoy, Kamloops is a great town. I would love to live in the Dallas/Pritchard area with all that Arizona scenery on the river... aaaaaaaaaaah

elchriso 6 years ago

So is the perfect storm still brewing? Have we managed to catch any breaks at all in the 10 months since this article was written?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

None at all. Although there has been a bit more rain than usual in the past few weeks in the area, this has been one of the warmest winters on record in all of BC. I can assure you that not one single beetle froze this year. Watch out for the summer of 2010...

Steve 6 years ago

"I can assure you that not one single beetle froze this year."

Do you have proof to support this claim? Your assurance is not enough in a dire situation such as this.

Alley 6 years ago

Wouldnt dropping most of those dead pine and burning them up in the winter help?The cost should not be a worry over our lives and the lives of creatures being at stake..But sometimes I think we have just gone to far turning a blind eye for to long .Seems life is all about greed.Please conserve ..

Taylor 6 years ago

While there is truth to the story and hard facts the idea you are trying to kill off 100 million is a little inflated. Sounds like a Hollywood movie plot where they pick off the innocent Canadians and let the Americans live in their ignorant bliss!(Not to offend)There has been a lot of destruction and there is no easy answer but the concept that "global warming" is responsible is an easy excuse. We have advances in 2010 that make us more aware of what is occurring in all places of the world!

Adam 6 years ago

100 million people? Sounds rather ridiculious if you ask me, If a fire, spread so quickly, that it scortched 100 million people, I'd be more afraid of lighters, than of nuclear weaponry.

kcreery profile image

kcreery 6 years ago from Whistler Canada

A little alarmist if you ask me. I see the forest fires won't affect Las Vegas. The firefighters won't let the casinos burn regardless of their high prices and lack of service. This film is on NBC next week.

Dave Neal 6 years ago

Last summer (2009) I rode from Merrit to Spences Bridge and the forests through there consisted of primarily dead standing ponderosa pine. The story is an interesting read and I too expect more large forest fires for the BC interior - I hope nothing of the magnitude predicted in the story unfolds, but we can all be sure that there will be some large forest fires this summer.

hayden 6 years ago

its not as bad asit was

bob 6 years ago

you cant see it in places like williams like but outside you can

mickel jackson 6 years ago

fires already 2010

BuyScooters profile image

BuyScooters 6 years ago from Vancouver, BC

So far in the Fraser Valley/ Lower Mainland it has been damp and cold. Supposedly it is going get warmer but we are almost in July and its overcast every day! Pine beetle is still very devastating to the economy though. Nice hub Hal

Ummm Nooo 6 years ago

I don't know if you have been to BC lately but this is the coldest, most effing non event of a summer I have ever had. 100 million people pfft, whatever and it was well over -25 degrees C at Fernie and Kicking Horse in the Rockies for more than a week last winter.

Evan 6 years ago

No doubt that the pine beetle has totally destroyed BC's forest. The threat of a fire that big is a possibility. We have seen this coming for years, and done nothing.

Josh 6 years ago

Okay this may be true but its not going to happen when you think, not 2011 maybe 14 or 15. I live here, ive driven up north lots latley and its pretty much green from south okanagan up to prince george to dawson but to the west near the fraser cannyon it is mostly dead and more up north east in Tweedmuir park kinda near Anahim Lake, also the beetles were accidentally transported to alberta on logs harvested from the cariboo-chilcotin area but im pretty sure that problem has been resolved. It will take more time to spread but it is getting bad i have had representatives come to my school and tell us about it. So i guess fire fighting jobs will go up but yeah it wont happen for the next few years.... If it even does :S

david 6 years ago

if you think rain will help reduce fire once MPB, spruce bud worm, whitebark pine beetle and a few others are done think twice. without the overstory to slow the inception of water, the percolation of water will increase due to lack of root structure. this will bring the water to river faster. what moisture that is left will evaporate due the fact that there is less absorption of heat from the sun by the dead trees. this will then increase temperatures allowing for hotter and drier days. I have done studies on the MPB and we have been hit worse then everyone thinks. before my helicopter rides i had estimated possibly 30% of our trees dead but now after the flight I estimate 45% dead this year and we will probably see 3 flights of the MPB in the next couple years as opposed to the original 1. it is more then our forests it is killing. look at our rivers, animal health, and health of our fish and then you will realize what this beetle is doing. My report to CFDC stated we need to start looking at harvesting the dead lumber from mountain slopes rather then valley floors for the safety of our fire fighters but I have seen this has not been done yet. as we all know fire rises so if we harvest lumber in valleys leaving the steeper slopes unharvested with dead tress what happens?

Josh 6 years ago

I was disagree-ing with the year of this fire and also that is wont be a pandemic kind of thing. im only 14 so dont judge me

tsunami 6 years ago

I also have been shocked at the devastation of the forests.

I live on the South Coast and we have not had a drop of rain in a month.

My trees are starting to show the stress and as we are heavily treed it would not take much to have a real inferno.

The clowns at city hall will not let us cut a tree so they are right up to my house.

All we need now is a severe dry lightning storm and all hell is going to break loose.

This seems a bit far out but another month of no rain and we are in major trouble.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

There are already over 1,000 wildfires in BC, an air crew died fighting one, and there is no rain in the 14 day forecast for most of the province. :(

John 6 years ago

Pure and simple left wing fear mongering.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I'm more right wing than Mussolini, you dolt! Sheesh, some people!

Fire fighter 6 years ago

Ok I agree to a point that the pine beetle has gotten out of hand but come on 100 million ppl your out to lunch ash a foot high again out to lunch you need to do some more research buddy. stop putting the fear of armagedon into everyones head. the fear you create is more harmful and devastating than that of a fire even half as big as your claiming. Yes I will admit that there may be several thousand ppl that could lose their homes because they are to close to a forest that could lite up at any moment but your chaos theory is just that a theory I was told almost 15 yrs ago when the beetle first started hitting hard and this "edjumacated" person LMAO told me in 5 yrs there wouldn't be a single pine left alive and two years later this same theory you have would occur. Something more does need to be done about the beetles as the BC gov't has cut off funding for helping control the beetles from spreading. but telling everyone in western north america they are going to die is not helpful. There will be a time when plagues will destroy a large portion of the world and then the Lord will come to take his faithful children home. and that my friend is more accurate than your computer model.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Thank you for your edit.

The Jackel 6 years ago

What a bunch of chaios theory. Being a forest firefighter in BC and seeing the MPB problem for years, I don't believe for one minute that your hypothosis is accurate. I am a forest technitian and have seen all corner of this province in the last 20years so I do believe you are fear mongering!

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Yeah, tell the fire fighters who are confronting the 1,000+ forest fires in the province that. :)

Calm Down Y'all 6 years ago

Licino, get your numbers right man. 1,000 is a correct number but not of fires, read the articles again, it's 1000 firefighters! Fires up to approx 320 as of Aug 3/2010. Nothing to be complacent about of course, but you're spreading more darn fear than is necessary.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Toronto Star, today's edition: Total number of wildfires in BC over 1,100. Thank you.

Slashking 6 years ago

So I guess we are all going to die....... Soon!

Whatever Buddy.

Waiting for your comment!!

inked quill 6 years ago

well there are more than just natural "buggers" at fault. Since Tolko has bought other mills their price per metre has brought logging to a grinding halt.Fact: one loffing company (small) had house logs..tolko offered 44 Per company offered log place was told if you by from logger you will no longer get wood from us...logger forced to sell to tolko...and THEY sold to house log builder for higher price.Loggers have been laid off due to their companies can no longer pay wages, fuel,and insurance just to be robbed by one company. Smaller mills do pay MORE per m but cannot take in large quanities. The east LOVES standing dead pine for the blue wood grain beetle infestation causes but the mills do not want dead beetle kill wood. So is a beetle but also no competitive mills anymore as well to keep prices per m for people to work. If the money was there per m loggers would be working in the bush and an export product caused but then you are coming up against the americans not liking us exporting overseas as is a market we both want. So there is a HUGE amount of problems caused by a beetle, no competitive mills as tolko just buys them (japanese money behind the Tolko too...tho head figure is Canandian) and the age old world competitive export wars over lumber of NA.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Slashking: What comment do you want? That you're a master of the English language as shown by your consummate skill in crafting the ultimate apropos yet vitriolic put down? Meh!

inked quill: Thank you for the insight. The prices being offered by Tolko of $44/m for house logs is outrageous. At that price it's not even worth cutting them!

Crazy 6 years ago

Have to say while this is as exciting as 2012, I think you are overreacting and not taking into account the two months of rain BC recieved, 100 million people couldn't be killed by a forest fire that size because fires don't burn that fast unless under perfect conditions and they don't produce nearly enough ash that can be lifted high enough to enter the air currents, it's a forest not a volcano

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Two months of rain that drastically increased the ground cover... hmm... the same ground cover that hasn't seen a drop of rain since May and is now tinder... hmm... and the ash doesn't reach the air currents as it hasn't in Russia now, right? Hmm... Well, dude, looks like you're battin' ZERO so far. Wanna keep goin'? :)

Crazy 6 years ago

Yep, there is still not going to be that much destruction I mean the ash would be too heavy to do any sort of serious ecological damage, maybe in the Immediate area but not all over North America. I mean you are talking about blotting out the sun and probably won't get enough ash to do that.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Good. I'm glad you expressed your opinion. It's wrong, but, hey, it's a free country. :)

wg 6 years ago

pure & simple - the forests are dying. just came back to vancouver island from fernie. the devistation is unbelievable. anyone home?? pure & simple?? maybe if we put our heads up our butts all will be ok.

Crazy 6 years ago

And I suppose you have more proof than your uncanny ability to see in the future.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

wg: Fernie looks like a rain forest next to the area north of Prince George. Go up there and be ready to be astounded. You can drive for hundreds of miles and see nothing but dead trees. Tinder dry dead trees. But since most people in BC live in cities, they have nooooooooooooo idea what's going on in 99% of the province. Very sad.

Crazy: No, I have some things on my side called facts, reality, and evidence. :)

wg 6 years ago

you are right. my reference to fernie was the fact that we just covered the southern provence west to east. the higher colder temperature areas like fernie were not affected like the warmer areas - hope to grand forks etc. to compare it from a few years ago is unbelievable. i live in nanaimo and guess what? - the smoke from a few small fires is blocking the sun. the provices budget for fighting forest fires is already spent - 50 million i've been told. i don't know about 100 million people dying becuse of forest fires in bc but that headline grabbed my attention. from what i've seen we are in a bad position to having never to be seen before massive forest fies. the fuel is there and being added to day by day. and that is a fact.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

BC is one good strong El Nino summer from oblivion. The province might have gotten lucky this year (if you can call this luck) but there's a perfect storm a-brewing in the Pacific currents and if this ENSO neutral bounces out of La Nina fast, then next summer could be a province wide bonfire.

Dwight Schrute 6 years ago

Im pleased too announce that Dunder Mifflin & Schrute's Hot Dog and Marshmallow Factories will be opening across the province

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Ah, with that scrumptious charbroiled pine beetle relish! Yum!

kel 6 years ago

I live in Vernon in the North Okanagan and us Vernonites know that every summer, usually August, we are going to be living with fires and poor air quality. This has become a way of life for the last 10 years. Having lived in BC all my life, I am saddened what has happened to our forests. I know that the BC Gov has done cut backs in dealing with the pine beetle issue but I also know that in the past, the Fed Gov turned down BC's plea for financial help to combat this problem. The cost to fight fires is another issue, as stated in the Vancouver Sun, B.C. has spent $56.5 million to date on firefighting, above the $52-million firefighting budget for 2010. I also do not see how 2 months of rain can be effective when considering we have had 6 years of drought like conditions. I hope that Mr Licino is wrong but the situation in the BC interior is not getting any better so we will see.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I appreciate your comment. The NOAA has just established (in a release a few hours ago) that ENSO Neutral conditions slipped into a weak La Nina in July. There seems to be a general consensus that a medium strength La Nina will continue into mid-winter. What happens after that is a bit foggy, but there are some dynamic and statistical models that show a pendulum effect by Spring 2011, and that a +3C El Nino could be present by this time next year. If that is the case, then BC residents might want to consider that Tasmania is a real nice place and not too different from the province... better meat pies but worse beer. :)

Williams Laker 6 years ago

You guys are awesome

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

We guys appreciate the comment... :)

korrado 6 years ago

Living on Vancouver island , for past 3 days heavy smoke and fog on all island . Guess why. Like in London UK. Not funny .

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Having lived in London for years I can assure you that the fog there is just water vapor... unlike Van Island now. :(

korrado 6 years ago

Yes , that was my thought.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Of course and I thank you for your comment. The smoke coming in from the hundreds of fires in SW BC is off the scale. I understand that in the Chilliwack area the sky is literally black.

darby 6 years ago

ow do they know about the fire how did they get that pic of the okanagon?????????????????????

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Which fire? And the pic from the Okanagan fire is from a few years ago.

living in Prince George 6 years ago

Although there are quiet a few fire in BC this year I find the idea that the province will burn and 100 million will die to be ridiculous. We had almost nothing but rain up to pretty much the end of June here. We have had about 6 weeks of hot dry weather but it is forcasted for rain for the next 4-5 days.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

That's because the Pacific is going into La Nina. Next year could be a strong El Nino and then the effects could be incalculable.

fivevalleysguy 6 years ago

Ive come to understand that the majority of smoke in westen Montana is coming from BC. Usually its our own or from Idaho or Oregon. So far our fire season is slow in getting started, but there is always the potential. We have a significant beetle kill area in Montana (3.9 million acres), that is spread over a very large area of our state in large and small tracts. One huge area in the Helena and Deer Lodge Natl Forest could devastate a great deal of our states economy. That said, 40 million acres ready to blow up in BC makes me think of the 1910 fire in north Idaho/Montana. My grandfather was born on christmas 1910 in Libby Mt. I have heard of the true devastation that a great fire can bring. Whatever the damage (100 million dead?, ash so deep you cant walk?)- this force of nature is much more than we can deal with on this scale. I didnt realize until I found your post that the beetle kill extends so far into BC. The fires will be very, very bad.

Thank you for posting this web page, Hal

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

You're very welcome. Thanks for your comment.

inked quill 6 years ago

Watching the news reports comming out of Russia of 700 people a day dying and still 2 weeks of no heat-wave relief puts that to a potential (700x14 days)9800 deaths. (I am not quite sure of scientific facts to back up my comparative subjective brainchild, so I shall rely on my life living on the fringes of civilization and your intellectual patience) Peat bogs on fire coupled with forest fires causing heavy dense smoke in Russia.(Well in my area peat bogs are found in most of the valley bottoms around the Thompson/Okanagan as well of a number which host ranches in the high mountain valleys). I find it interesting to note that the level of carbon monoxcide and other acrid pollutants are 7 times higher than considered safe within Moscow itself (so cities have their own air pollution reflected back upon one said Mother Nature lacked a sense of justice towards humans). Peat bogs are thousands of years in the making and are miles deep in some cases if not miles long,and could possibly burn underground in some areas in a mild winter to re-emerge in warm weather. (On this I am not quite sure of any scientific facts to substantiate this but rely on the makeup of peatmoss and practices of burning peat in Ireland in days of old.). Russian wheat crops will be 20% less(so far)and in a country known for exporting wheat shall be a major financial blow. (Did the wheat fields burn or was it due to no rain fall and thus did not grow? No one has clarified this in reports) B.C. does contribute to our own grain stores tho not in the magnitude of Alberta or Saskatchewan. Should this have been B.C. in this same Russian smog scenario I realise we are not as vulnerable as we are privileged to live in a country with such comfortable luxuries for everyday living and most public stores are air conditioned.(as opposed to a few goverment buildings in Moscow itself)It is those luxuries (such as home air conditioning) that will perhaps allow some with health issues and our aging public to witstand a killer smog.(as they do on some days even now with forest fires lingering smoke) I am not sure as to how hydro has taken into account how to best redirect power on aged equipment from one area of the province to another in such an emergency but we can only hope (with many varied facial contortions)that this major forest fire scenario has an action plan if needed. We are in the Thompson/Okanagan area use to the occasional bout of 30C plus and have our share of semi-desert areas.Many people are losing their lawns for zero-scaping (we do try).I can see beef prices in our area going up if a large areas of forest were to burn while cattle were out on the range and a more than a few ranchers placed in a finacial vise. The mud flowing in spring from fire torn mountains destroying salmon runs. Hunting curtailed for some time for wildlife populations both fish and mammals to rise again.(Including our Indigenous Natives as they too would want what was best for mother earth...right?) Will not be just a forrest fire or smog causing large death tolls but the slow closing off of mother natures bounty that will hit B.C. and the repercussions finally felt in the eastern part of Canada which has leaned on the west's bounty for so long. Canada has had a long history of being self reliant on her own country for what Canadians need for life's basics. Perhaps our country should realize our mountains,trees,as well as our waters need a caring hand and not for just an eye as to what will bring a one or two term share holders pocket book or to large corporations who spend little or no time in the area of wence their money comes from. Relying on some report made to keep them happy with blurred facts as to what is better for nature and how she works. Russia is a heads up people! We as Canandians (ALL her human content regardless of colour or race) need to look around our personal living space, and do some personal changes in living area then THAT will effect our communities. Communities can agree on something which forces the regional district...and on it goes up the chain to our political leaders(yes I alot like judging a equine derivative on vocalization merrits championship as you still end up with a Champion Jackass)and causes a change in how we treat Mother Nature as a whole BEFORE Mother Nature kicks our collective Canadian ass!

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Couldn't have said it better myself!

Reclaimed Timber Guy 6 years ago

Look forward to opening more communication with you Hal. I am at ground zero of the beetlekill epidemic in CO - so far 3.6 million acres and moving fast.

About 7 years ago, I decided to do something about it - so I have been working with our CO wood processors (puny by BC mill standards as the CO timber industry was largely put out of business, so we do not have a lot of capacity), to promote the utilization of the dead timber as lumber and biomass for electricity, heat, and fuels.

FINALLY, got some influential players involved and looks like we are gaining some momentum to at least begin the protection of our infrastructure. 'Urban interface areas' are being cleared and the issue of water, power, transportation and communications grids are at least being brought to attention. We will see if we can mobilize the public, govt., and the forest services into action from here.

I have focused on the billions in cost that this devastation will cause with obvious implications as to the loss of all types of life but have to be careful in my presentations. For starters, tourism is the 2nd largest revenue generator in CO....

I wrote up a presentation on the issues and opportunities that you and others might find of interest on my site. See the Issues and Opportunites link on the home page.

Interestingly enough, one of my biggest problems in the market place is the undervaluation of the wood products -NOT from a consumer standpoint, but from the pricing set by the wood industry! Consumers are happy to pay 2-3 times what our lumberyards are selling it for - and they import most of it from Canada! Thus it is not profitable for our US mills to process. I pose the question: why should a beautiful and unique wood product that is arguably the most environmentally friendly, be the cheapest wood on the market?!

Maybe more later...

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

It's a fascinating project, and the prospect of the Blue Pine sounds like it's definitely the way to go! Please let me know what I can do to assist. :)

inked quilll 6 years ago

I was reading "recalimed timber guy's" comments. It is well thought out and intriquing. when I said on an earlier comment here that the east loved the blue grained stained wood from bug killed timber I am talking about the oriental market. They love furniture and walls made from it so I am surprised Canada or the USA do not do more to incorporate this into a more viable money market to boost the market value of bug killed wood. Just a thought.

henry morganfileld 6 years ago


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

inked quill: From my own personal knowledge all I've heard about beetle kill wood is that it's only good for sawdust to make OSB and not even then. That's why I was so pleasantly surprised by the comments showing its usefulness. I would love to see a thriving market for this product because heaven knows, BC sure has enough of it!

henry morganfield: Yeah? Well, you're ugly and your mother dresses you funny. Nah nah nah naaaaaaaaaaaaaah naaaaaaaah! :)

Chris Bacon 6 years ago

This is an interesting subject that Hal tends to lose track of with the type of hysterics and lack of analysis so common on the internet. An unprofessional approach to criticism (see the response to Henry Morganfileld, above) brings the level of discussion even lower.

As for stats, BC has had 1474 fires so far which have burned about 175,000 hectares. The summer is not over yet, but there is a ways to go before we see the stats from hotter years such as 1998 or 2006, with 2600 plus fires in the latter year.

I would have thought the cataclysmic fires in Russia, which have burned 200,000 hectares (including several villages and a major navy base) would have revealed the folly of Hal's casualty predictions. 50 people died in Russia. If you include death by heatstroke and smog, the figure may rise as high as 14,000. I think that may be a reasonable downside senario for the fire disaster that Hal predicts and which may occur.

A look at history reveals that North America has dealt with major fires before global warming, and the response is worth remembering.

Oregon had very hot summers between 1943 and 1946. The entire forest burned, including the fir tops. (PS, there were none of the disasterous effects Hal predicts). However, experts at the time predicted that the forest would not grow back.

A major planting drive, using tree planters and scattering cones from helicopters revived the forest completely.

I think a proper scientific approach would avoid hysterical apocalyptic presentations and move toward solutions. Cutting down all the dead beetle kill is impractical. An Oregon syle approach using species which are beetle resistant may actually work.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Well, Chris, it's obvious that you're upset by my answer to the intellectual and verbose Henry because your mom dressed you up in a checkered jacket and striped pants today. :) Comparing Russia and BC is like comparing the way you're walking around with the fashion model on the latest GQ cover. Russia does not have anywhere near the beetle kill of BC, and Oregon's 1940s summer temps are totally irrelevant as there were no significant beetles as well. You obviously think that BC is the size of an Oregon fruit farm. We've got big spaces up here, sonny. Ploughing under the whole province and replanting plastic trees is about as reasonable as your mother's choice of clothes for you. :)

Chris Bacon 6 years ago

I have lived in BC 40 years. I've worked as a tree planter. I've been through most of the Province.

From the (low) quality of your response, it is clear I have wasting my time with this.

You have no earthly idea what you are talking about.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Yeah, and you're just worried about fires making you too crispy and lousy on a BLT. :)

Curt 6 years ago

OMG people... i agree with the firefighters of B.C. I live in alberta near the mountains and this is absolutely retarded. and no offence to eastern canada but if you believe everything written in the toronto star i laugh at you. they think there the center of canada and they know nothing of western civilization. and there is not 1000 fires burning. its a blown out of porportion number. Grow up Hal. and to the people that believe this... there are much more to worry about than a appocolypes by fire in canada lol. get real. Pray for rain for those living in areas at risk and firefighters risking there lives.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Oh yeah, I'm getting really real. With my friends in Chilliwack who haven't been able to go outside in two weeks. There aren't any fires. All that smoke in the air is because YOU'RE SMOKING WACKY TOBACKY! Sheesh! DUH!

Albertagirl 6 years ago

I live close to Calgary,AB and it is unbelievable how bad the smoke is. Usually you can see the Rockies fine, but now I can't even see a kilometer away. People it really is that had. I've lived here for 10 yrs and this is the worst that I have ever seen.

I really don't think that the Toronto Star would lie about the amount of fires happening right now. Why would they?

I just visited McBride BC a few weeks back and I can see the pine beetle has started effecting the Robsin valley a lit already. Even last summer in Invermere the amount of damage the pine beetle has done is horrifying. I just pray that BC will get a lot of rain....Southern Alberta has had so much rain that I really do want to send it to BC! Good luck to all the firefighters out there fighting this storm.

Albertagirl 6 years ago

Albertagirl 6 years ago

Albertagirl 6 years ago

Albertagirl 6 years ago

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks for your links and your report from Alberta. Those webcams are truly eyeopening. There are some where the visibility seems to be a hundred yards or less on what should be a cloudless summer day! Frightening!

Hal Has No Idea 6 years ago

Thank you for the incredible story. It's truly the stuff of Hollywood. It's the "Dante's Peak" to anyone who ever studied Volcanism in University....if taken seriously - it's completely insulting to even the least critically minded. There are simply so much information taken out of context in Hal's fantasy document that I don't even know where to start. However, let me take the first one that stood out immediately - that 70% of BC will be covered with dead dry timber by the summer of 2011.....hogwash!!! How is that possible when only 55% of the province is forested? Or how about that fact that the Mountain Pine Beetle is effecting a huge area, but only in the Interior of the Coast? The Coast on the West, and the Kootenay's in the East only have endimic populations at this time. The Ministry of Forest studies from the summer of 2009 are indicating the beetle population has begun to collapse, sadly due to the lack of food. This is truly a massive ecological event, but nothing more than what mother nature is capable of when weather patterns allow (possibly global warming) and the food source was created (aggressive fire suppression during the later half of this century in BC). I can't even begin the address the bizarre comments about ecological food chain collapse and the rediculous death toll suggestions. This is a report written to to do nothing more than gain attention...there is no science here. A wonderful piece of fiction none the less. See the real story at sites like;

Note the area burned thus far this year in BC has not exceeded the 10 year average. I agree only on one point - we should see significantly higher fire activity during the next 5-20 years in a large part due to the mountain pine beetle timber, but nothing on any possible scale close to what Hal is trying to convey.

There are thousands of foresters and forest scientists who would not have read past the headline...sadly, I'm not as smart as them.

Katie 6 years ago

After choking in the stench in Edmonton yesterday, I was thinking....what if BC had had a hot summer, what then??? I think the above article is correct if the conditions align for the worst. Best prepare, cause the clowns in your gov't (look @ Campbell DUI mugshots) don't care a fig.

CoolerHeadsPrevail 6 years ago

AlbertaGirl, the Rockies are only visible from Calgary due to an optical illusion called looming. A regular cloudy day is all it takes to block that from happening so that's not the best comparison to make. That said, the smoke from these fires is reducing visibility even here in Saskatchewan so there's no doubt that there's a lot of smoke coming from them.

As for the article, there are so many holes in your science that the events in The Day After Tomorrow are more likely to occur. Even the 1997 Indonesian Forest Fire, widely considered to be the worst forest fire in recorded history, did not do this kind of damage. Sure, it had a heavy impact of the environment and caused a lot of problems but Indonesia was not rendered uninhabitable, despite most of the island burning. There is no way a fire in BC could leave most of North America uninhabitable.

Also, the deadliest natural disaster in recorded history only killed 2.5 million people (the 1931 China floods). The next worst disaster only killed half a million people and that was a cyclone in Pakistan. In fact, all of the top ten deadliest disasters occured in Asia where the population density is much higher. No localized disaster has ever killed anywhere near 100 million people, nor has one caused widespread deaths over an area the size of North America. The entire continent would have to burn and then I think we'd have bigger things to worry about than the smoke blocking the sun (such as, you know, not burning to death).

Next time, do a bit more research before you start fear-mongering.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Hal Has & Cooler: Take a hike. Preferably in the middle of one of the BC forest fires which both of you are in denial about. :)

Katie: Gordon is a clown, and hopefully this HST mess will get rid of him forever and back to a DUI cell where he belongs. :)

jaz301 6 years ago

So can you please tell me where you got your facts from? I believe we are going to have bad forest fires in the coming year, but 100 million deaths? As @CoolerHeadsPrevail said the worst natural disaster was 2.5 million people (the 1931 China floods). And now you are saying the smoke from fires in BC are going to block out the sun and the ashes are going to go all over NA and ruin crops? Give me a break. This is just another stupid conspiracy just like the world ending in 2012(which I am sure you probably believe in) I wont believe this until pigs fly or if this actually happens, but I think I am more likely to see a pig fly than 100 million deaths by a natural disaster

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Hey look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's pigs flying! :)

firebug 6 years ago

This is actually quite comical to read.It would make a good movie.

Katmandu 6 years ago

Before I believe anything with regard to this article I need to know who Hal Licino is...Are you a novelist or a scientist?

PS.. my mother does not dress me and I am wearing a blue sweater.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

firebug: Great! You can buy the option for the screenplay. Start at 7 figures and work your way up! :)

Katmandu: I knew a cat once with your name. And FYI, I'm a cat too... can't you see my pic on the bike? And your blue sweater makes you look like a smurf. Your mom must be as blind as you are. :)

thomasczech profile image

thomasczech 6 years ago from Canada

Thanks for posting this. Being a BC boy but living in Ontario i would hate to see the Lush green forests destroyed, this will certainly be devestating not only for humans but for all the animals as well as affect the climate and so on. What can be done? Keep trying to stop the beetles, try everything we can think of untill we have a solution

One Way 6 years ago

There is a solution emerging slowly that makes economical and environmental sense: promote and re-grow BC's logging and forestry industry through biomass power generation. In this way the province gains much needed additional power generation as well as slowly expanding transmission capability and true "Grid" building. Environmentally, some beetle killed timber is harvested, removing at least a proportion of fire fuel. The last step of the solution is implementation of a replanting practice with chosen beetle resistant species. This solution does not need to be done right now everywhere in BC, but gradually promoted and implemented would greatly decrease the chances and devastation effect of holocaustal forest fires in BC.

quotations profile image

quotations 5 years ago from Canada

I had never heard of this threat - I hope that you are completely wrong about the ecological collapse zone.

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