Spring Fires & Global Warming

Driving back to Missouri yesterday, I crossed the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas.  Most of those grass-covered ridges were charred from recent controlled burns and active fires were scattered across the rolling terrain, sending massive plumes of smoke into the hazy sky.  This spectacle occurs every April in the Flint Hills and, it's safe to say, in many other ranching and agricultural areas throughout the country and across the globe.

One can only begin to imagine how much carbon is added to the atmosphere by this annual rite of spring.  How many power plant closures or vehicle use restrictions would be needed to balance the carbon emissions produced by this activity?  While the process is used to eliminate invasive plant species, control tree growth on the grasslands and enrich the soil, mimicking the effects of natural wildfires, one wonders if these benefits outweigh the air pollution and its exacerbation of global warming.

Of course, many (if not most) farmers and ranchers in the U.S. tend to believe that the global warming "theory" is just another liberal delusion.  For those of us who are concerned about the potential effects of climate change, a drive across eastern Kansas in April is a disturbing experience indeed.