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Still No Rain

by Nick Coons
Jan 15, 2006

Last year, we made so much progress towards working our way out of the drought. The jetstream had moved south and we were getting the rain that is normally seen in the northwest. This time last year it was pouring down on us, and things were looking good. However, this has all changed.

It seems that the drought has resumed. With 89 consecutive rainless days in Phoenix, this could be one of the worst years ever for lack of precipitation. It's the middle of January, and Flagstaff has yet to see its first measurable snowfall. By this time of year, Humphrey's Peak should be covered in snow and ready for skiers.

The state government is pushing for saving water even more than before. They've even put out books for elementary schools to give to children so they can understand how the water distribution system in Arizona
Arizona(air-i'-ZON-u')

The State of Arizona comprises the extreme south-western portion of the United States. It is bounded on the north by Utah, on the east by New Mexico, on the south by Mexico, and on the west by California and Nevada.

works. Conserving water can make sure that we all have enough for our needs, but it does nothing to prevent the wildfires that are likely to occur because the state will be covered in dry fuel.

Obviously we can prevent man-made forest fires by not doing stupid things like throwing cigarettes or glass out the car window while driving down an open highway. But the natural fires, ones started by lightning, can't really be avoided. For these instances, we need useful firefighting techniques, and I see the ones that we have as being very inadequate. It's interesting how we dump water all over fires in order to put them out, yet it's our lack of water that has allowed these fires to be caused in the first place. It seems that there must be an easier way, something that would involve using the energy created by the fire against itself.

For example, how about super-compressing some sort of fire-retardant (like that in a fire extinguisher) into small pellets that burst when they come into contact with heat. These could be dropped by plane over a fire. The fire causes them to explode, spraying fire-retardant all over the immediate area. It seems that something like this would be able to put out more fire per pound than water, so less of it would be needed for the same effect, or the same amount could be used for a greater effect.

This idea may be completely unfeasible. In any case, it does seem that newer methods need to be explored, as our existing ones don't work well given the current situation.

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