TeacherServe Essays

History with Fire in Its Eye: An Introduction to Fire in America

Author: Pyne, Stephen J.

With fire, humans claim a unique ecological niche: this is what we do that no other creature does. We apply and withhold it according to social institutions, cultural norms, perceptions of how we see ourselves in nature. Different people have created distinctive fire regimes, as they have distinctive literatures and architectures. In this way fire became both natural and cultural. Several problems dominate the contemporary discourse about American fire: (1) the role of fire in wilderness and nature reserves; (2) the increased mixing of wildlands and cities; (3) the relative merits of fire control and controlled fire; and (4) the status of burning in a context of global change.

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History / Environment and Nature / Education Studies / Fire / Wildfires / Environmental Conservation / Ecology / Environmental History / American History /