Archive for December, 2009

Si vis pacem, para pacem

December 29th, 2009 No comments

La vieja máxima de los romanos, Si vis pacem, para bellum (= si quieres la paz, prepara la guerra), quizá tuvo algo de valor en aquella época, pero hoy en día esta totalmente obsoleta (por muchos motivos que ahora no detallaré). Sin embargo hay gobiernos, como el español, que siguen la filosofía bélica del tiempo de los romanos. Por eso, estos días diferentes grupos han llevado a cabo acciones contra los presupuesto militares aprobados por el gobierno para el 2010, que asciende a la friolera de 18.161 millones de euros. En vez de cubrir las auténticas necesidades sociales (sustento, vivienda, educación, sanidad, etc), el estado se gastará una media de 394 euros diarios por persona en la preparación de la guerra:

– Presupuestos para matar. Acción contra los presupuestos militarizados de 2010 en Bilbao [enlace]
– Villancicos antimilitaristas critican los presupuestos para matar de 2010 [enlace]
– Docentes y antimilitaristas piden en Alacant mayor calidad en la enseñanza con dinero del gasto militar [enlace]
– Mejoremos la Educación: No al Gasto Militar [enlace]

Algunos colectivos que trabajan por la paz y la desmilitarización de España:,,,,,,,,
Datos de la campaña de Objeción Fiscal al Gasto Militar 2009 en el Estado Español [ver]

Fire Ecology Congress 2009

December 7th, 2009 No comments

During a week (30/Nov – 4/Dec, 2009), about 600 ecologist meet in Savannah (Georgia, USA) for the 4th International Congress on Fire Ecology and Management [web], organised by the Assotiation for Fire Ecology (AFE). The congress included 10 plenary talks and 9 concurrent sessions of 20-minute talks distributed in different topics, plus about 150 posters. The topics discussed include all kind of topics related fire ecology and management; there was however a clear bias towards topics on management, and few talks dealt with pure ecology or the evolutionary consequences of living in fire prone-ecosystems. Four one-day field trips and five workshops completed the program of the Congress.

One of the focus of the conference was the importance of fire management by indigenous, and how modern fire management can learn form that. W. Trollope give a very nice example of the interaction and knowledge transfer between indigenous and modern societies. Current fire managers have a lot to learn from indigenous on this topic. The contrast between the eco-cultural fire management paradigm (many small frequent fires) versus the bio-physical (modern) fire management paradigm was stresses by many of the speakers, from many countries (Brasil, Venezuela, EEUU, Canada, Australia).

The other topic that emerged quite important during the conferences was the role of fire in the global carbon cycling. Prescribed burning is a common and a needed practice for land management in many ecosystems, to maintain low fuel loads (i.e., to prevent catastrophic fires) and to enhance biodiversity (“More prescribed fires mean less wildfires”). This message need to get through the society as there is the possibility of social and political rejection of prescribed fires in order to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The reduction of prescribed fires would have catastrophic consequences in long-term. The AFE produced a position paper on this topic (pdf).

Other topics I found very interesting were Flammability and Fire history. Understanding flammability is still in its infancy. The large databases on fire history, from both charcoal in sediments and tree scars, is allowing us to better understand the fire history in many ecosystems although still much effort is needed.

The organisers made an effort for the congress to be international, and thus they invited plenary speakers representative of different parts of the world (Australia, Africa, North America, South America, Central America, South Europe, and Central Asia). However, most participant (>90%) were from USA, and the second country represented was Canada. Thus the conference was biased towards fire ecology in North America. I would say that the other continents (Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, Asia) were represented by less than about 5 scientists each. I suppose that for this congress to become international, next edition should be held outside of North America.


Pinewoods (Pinus elliottii, I think) with palmetto (Serenoa repens, I think) dominant in the undertory, mantained by prescribed fires (ca. 2-3 years) in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (one of the field trips of the congress).