To the editor:
Forest fires affect us not only in the short term, but also in the long term. In the short term, there is an extra cost for fighting them, moving costs for some and the impacts of air quality. In the long term, there is loss of income, timber, habitat and a bad rep for the tourism industry.
Lightning-caused fires are so far this year about 75 per cent, human-caused 25 per cent. We can get the human-caused to an even lower number.
As for attacking/fighting future fires, as [Environment and Climate Change] Minister Catherine McKenna recently stated, innovation can help. Right now with satellites, we know exactly how many lightning strikes and where. Perhaps an aircraft like the Airbus Zephyr, a solar electric plane, can help. It set a record of flying almost 26 days on its own at 70,000 feet. A plane like that could not only spot lightning strikes but any resulting fires. Other autonomous planes could do early firefighting in a very dry year like our current one. It is much easier to deal with a small fire than a larger one. The technology is not quite there yet, but aircraft builders are working on electric planes to carry 100 people with ranges of about 1,000 miles. A solar electric water bomber could be on standby in the air for weeks until it was needed, with minimal cost.