Campfires

Bushwalking topics that are not location specific.
Forum rules
The place for bushwalking topics that are not location specific.

Campfires

Postby Lophophaps » Sat 09 Jan, 2021 1:15 pm

Your views on camp fires are sought.

Camp fires have been used for millenia. In the last few decades bushwalkers have used camp fires less. The main reasons are.
1 Impact on habitat; decaying timber adds to ground nutrients.
2 Some places are unsuitable for fires, such as above the treeline.
3 Some places have no timber left, such as popular huts.
4 Camp fires are banned in some places, like Tasmania's Central Plateau.
5 There's a growing cultural shift away from camp fires.
6 Stoves have become increasinly light, compact and reliable.
7 Climate change means that the bush is increasingly dry, too risky.

Some people say that away from proscribed areas, where timber is plentiful - especially non-formal campsites - camp fires may be used if safe and minimal timber is used.

Interestingly, some huts have a camp fire ban but have a stove or fireplace. This is so for much of Kosciuszko and Alpine National Parks. Hut fireplaces are quite inefficient, and some hut stoves are badly designed. Popular places like the Guthega Power Station-Schlink corridor (Kosciuszko NP) and Feathertop (Alpine NP) have many summer and winter visitors. Some commercial groups have a tendency to lack awareness of camp fire protocols.

When and where should camp fires and hut fires be used? Should the trend towards less camp fires be accelerated? Are there any other issues that need to be raised?
User avatar
Lophophaps
Auctorita modica
Auctorita modica
 
Posts: 3011
Joined: Wed 09 Nov, 2011 9:45 am
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby Paul » Sat 09 Jan, 2021 1:43 pm

I believe it is legal to have a fire for survival at any time - i.e. to cook food if otherwise to die of starvation - or - for warmth if otherwise to die of hypothermia.


Paul.
Paul
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 170
Joined: Sun 14 Dec, 2008 7:29 pm
Region: Tasmania

Re: Campfires

Postby commando » Sat 09 Jan, 2021 2:44 pm

When you visit an area that has been logged until there is nothing left, and most of that timber is exported
plundering the Nation's resources, all in the name of money and done with full Government approval, denying
Australians the high quality timber products and leaving them with the core of the tree, campfires amongst
bushwalkers shouldn't even enter the discussion equation.
commando
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 413
Joined: Tue 14 Jul, 2020 10:32 pm
Region: Australia

Re: Campfires

Postby sandym » Sat 09 Jan, 2021 3:23 pm

The bush fire that recently burnt a huge area of Fraser Island was started by an illegal campfire. https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/nation ... 56n24.html

My opinion is that the age of campfires is over. There are simply too many people out there who are not taking adequate precautions. Why anyone wants to sit around breathing in toxic particulate matter is an anathema to me. I also find the ubiquitous fire pits unsightly and polluting.

An unpopular opinion I am sure.
sandym
Atherosperma moschatum
Atherosperma moschatum
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Wed 19 Sep, 2012 7:34 pm
Region: New South Wales
Gender: Female

Re: Campfires

Postby peregrinator » Sat 09 Jan, 2021 4:29 pm

Paul, I don’t know whether it’s legal to light a fire in the circumstances you describe. But even though I think Lophophaps seven points are self-evident truths, and I see them as supporting an argument against the use of campfires, I would light one if my survival depended on it. But as I hope to explain below, I cannot see any other compelling reasons why campfires continue to be used.

My thoughts on this issue are directly influenced by the problems climate change are inducing. The increasing destruction of habitats and wildlife (as well as human-built structures) caused by wildfires suggests that anything we can do to limit further damage should be adopted without delay. We live in an era of accelerating mass extinctions.

Campfires have been responsible for at least some of the damage, Fraser Island being the most recent example, with horrific consequences. Also consider this statement in the latest Bushwalking Australia Newsletter, p.5, downloadable from this forum: “Authorities found 87 unattended or abandoned campfires in Victoria on the weekend of 14-15 November 2020.”

There are other causes of fire, of course. Some of those also appear to be increasing more frequently due to climate change. In order to prevent yet more damage, one positive measure we could introduce throughout the nation, would be to make all campfires illegal. Some will say that is an over-reaction. I fully understand that some people, and quite probably all members of this forum, are far more responsible in their use of fire than others. But it is worth thinking carefully about the “growing cultural shift away from campfires” Lophophaps identifies.

Yes, bushwalkers have been delighting in campfires for many years, and some have come to think of them as being essential. In a recent post here (viewtopic.php?f=5&t=32347), ribuck referred to campfires providing “comfort and a social focal point”. I cannot believe that people are unable to have a decent conversation without a fire. Ribuck also mentions warmth and lighting. But surely most if not all bushwalkers come prepared with appropriate clothing. Just as they also bring a torch for those moments when one is needed. You’ll certainly see more stars in the night sky of you’re not staring into a fire.

Ribuck’s comparison between campfire and fossil fuel usage is curious. I think one needs to compare the quantities of materials used in order to come to any conclusion. I grant you that gas canisters have negative environmental consequences. But if I boil water using a small portable stove to prepare a dehydrated meal, taking five to ten minutes, that’s a tiny amount of fuel compared to what is burnt in a single typical wood campfire that might burn for many hours.

Small campsites are often made needlessly smaller because someone has thoughtlessly built a campfire on an otherwise perfectly good flat spot for a tent. A fire could just as easily be built on a slope, but somehow that logic is generally lacking.

States declare fires to be illegal in specified areas, but (cf. Fraser Island), the plea of ignorance (wilful or otherwise) will inevitably be made. Fires are also illegal during Total Fire Bans. Some people apparently believe these bans don’t apply to them.

A theoretical way to prevent those absurd responses, would be to guard every entry to a NP etc. All visitors have to go through an entry gate or gates, are briefed on the regulations, and reminded of the personal consequences of any damage they may cause. Of course this will not happen, even without the recent and current under-funding of staff in the field.

What other measures are possible? None, of course, except to credulously hope for the best. It seems to me that the only option is to declare that any campfires, in any location, are an unacceptable hazard. This, if associated with an education campaign centred around taking action on climate change, would signal to the population at large that unless serious thinking is done, our forests are increasingly likely to be doomed. If legislation to ban campfires did exist, would that really cause any bushwalkers to decide to stop bushwalking? I doubt it.

I believe that our planet is crying out to be looked after much more considerately than has largely been the case ever since Europeans invited themselves / invaded / came to conquer. Surely it is time to do some significant reflection, and to challenge old taken for granted and complacent assumptions. Many arguments favouring campfires seem to me to fall into a similar category used by those calling for feral horses to be regarded as deserving of heritage status. Campfires are a part of a bushwalking heritage, seems to be the motto. The fact that the horses are wrecking the joint gets buried beneath the unexamined rhetoric. Ditto the damage done by campfires.

Given the connection between accelerating climate change and fire damage to ecosystems, I’d like to know whether proponents of campfires can suggest any ways we might be able to prevent future human generated fires such as recent Fraser Island conflagration.
peregrinator
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1459
Joined: Fri 15 Apr, 2011 2:50 pm
Region: Victoria

Re: Campfires

Postby Moondog55 » Sat 09 Jan, 2021 5:06 pm

I personally believe that the previous post is an argument in favour of population control and having far fewer people on the planet.
Also better education and funding of the National Parks services fir which we would need to pay for with taxation, maybe increasing the GST to 15/20% in line with most of the rest of the world

But I admit I'm a dinosaur and camp fires are an integral part of my own bushwalking experience. I am loath to give them up.
But honestly bushwalkers campfires are hardly the source of global warming, I'd produce more CO2 driving to the start of the walk. Camp fires contribution is negligible; especially compared to the hundreds of thousand fireplaces in caravan parks around the place and the millions of backyard firepits in this country and the millions of wood stoves used for cooking and heating in country Australia. Where bans exist for good reason I'll adhere to them as I naturally do for total fire bans and cooking fires in hazardous conditions.
Ve are too soon old und too late schmart
Moondog55
Lagarostrobos franklinii
Lagarostrobos franklinii
 
Posts: 10005
Joined: Thu 03 Dec, 2009 4:15 pm
Location: Norlane Geelong Victoria Australia
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby bigkev » Sat 09 Jan, 2021 5:49 pm

I've got no real ideological issues either way with campfires. All the points raised by Peregrinator are right, however I also pretty well agree with Moondog in that a small bushwalking fire is pretty well irrelevant in the grand scheme of things in areas with plentiful fallen timber (obviously obeying all the relevant rules and regulations of the land managers).

Sandym is probably closest to my position though - questioning why would anyone want to be breathing the smoke in?

So in answer to the question Lophophaps posed originally I rarely use an open fire anymore (once in the last decade from memory) although I have been in huts occasionally and used the fireplace or stove. The smell and fumes, along with the environmental considerations are all factors in why I generally don't have one anymore.
User avatar
bigkev
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 394
Joined: Sat 30 Jun, 2012 6:44 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby peregrinator » Sat 09 Jan, 2021 5:53 pm

Moondog55 wrote:. . . But honestly bushwalkers campfires are hardly the source of global warming, I'd produce more CO2 driving to the start of the walk. Camp fires contribution is negligible; especially compared to the hundreds of thousand fireplaces in caravan parks around the place and the millions of backyard firepits in this country and the millions of wood stoves used for cooking and heating in country Australia. Where bans exist for good reason I'll adhere to them as I naturally do for total fire bans and cooking fires in hazardous conditions.


Moondog, I'm referring to an indirect effect of campfires. I.e. their "escape" due to negligent monitoring of them. Global warming contributes to loss of habitats, as we know. Escaped campfires just accentuate the problem.
peregrinator
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1459
Joined: Fri 15 Apr, 2011 2:50 pm
Region: Victoria

Re: Campfires

Postby Moondog55 » Sat 09 Jan, 2021 6:58 pm

Education and more education needed.
We like to think we are a nation of bushmen but that is far from the truth.
If you live with electric and gas central heating you forget or you never learn that fires are dangerous; where-as our grandparents had to learn this stuff early in their lives [ OK my grandparents, others Great-Grandparents or maybe Great great grandies] - knowledge gets lost or not transferred from generation to generation if it's deemed to be of no value; until it's needed again and has to be re-learned.
Ve are too soon old und too late schmart
Moondog55
Lagarostrobos franklinii
Lagarostrobos franklinii
 
Posts: 10005
Joined: Thu 03 Dec, 2009 4:15 pm
Location: Norlane Geelong Victoria Australia
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby Paul » Sat 09 Jan, 2021 7:27 pm

TASMANIAN LEGISLATION


69. Camp fires, &c.

(1) This section applies to –
(a) any fire for cooking or warmth;
(b) any fire for the burning of carcasses; and
(c) any other fire of a prescribed class –
not being a fire within an enclosed building.
(2) A person shall not light a fire to which this section applies –
(a) in or on peat, humus, or marram grass; or
(b) within 3 metres of any stump, log, or standing tree.
Penalty: Fine not exceeding 50 penalty units.
(3) A person shall not leave unattended a fire to which this section applies unless it has been completely extinguished.
Penalty: Fine not exceeding 50 penalty units.
(4) During a fire permit period a person shall not light a fire to which this section applies unless all flammable material has been moved to a place that is at least 3 metres from the site of the fire.
Penalty: Fine not exceeding 50 penalty units.

Paul
Paul
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 170
Joined: Sun 14 Dec, 2008 7:29 pm
Region: Tasmania

Re: Campfires

Postby Lophophaps » Sun 10 Jan, 2021 6:54 am

sandym wrote:There are simply too many people out there who are not taking adequate precautions.


Quite probably. This may be more reflective of visitor numbers, a lack of experience, and a lack of exposure to good role models. Some people simply do not know. I was camped at a hut and a party wanted to light the hut stove. Inside the stove some fools had left rubbish, which I separated into paper and cardboard, and plastics and foil. The paper and cardboard could be used to light a fire, and plastics and foil would have to be carried out. I did not stay up for the fire. Next morning the paper, cardboard, plastics and foil had all been burnt.

There seems to be a general consensus that campfires pollute and are bad for health. I have been unable to find a reference about how this compares to other aspects of a trip, like fuel for the car or gas stove.

peregrinator wrote:I cannot see any other compelling reasons why campfires continue to be used.


I cannot recall the last time I lit a campfire - the need simply has not arisen. I've seen others light fires on the ground, in fireplaces and in hut stoves. At O'Keefes and Whites River Huts in October 2018 it was very cold, blizzard and snow. Fires were lit in both huts. Decades ago in the Grampians the party was caught by very cold weather and lit a fire for lunch, huddling under an overhang. These examples are tending towards a fire for survival.
User avatar
Lophophaps
Auctorita modica
Auctorita modica
 
Posts: 3011
Joined: Wed 09 Nov, 2011 9:45 am
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby stry » Sun 10 Jan, 2021 10:07 am

Proscription is a poor substitute for intelligent thought.

Fires are fine when used with proper regard for the factors already mentioned. I haven't lit one in frequented walking areas for many, many years. In unfrequented areas, in the middle months of the year, I often, but not always, light afire for the warmth and the atmosphere. Car camping, depending on circumstances, I will often, but not always, have a fire, again, mainly in the middle months of the year.
stry
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1270
Joined: Mon 10 Jun, 2013 6:28 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby ChrisJHC » Sun 10 Jan, 2021 10:15 am

Over the years I’ve greatly reduced my use of campfires.
Mainly this is because I’m mostly hiking by myself and hence no need for a social focus.
I cook over a stove so no need for a fire for cooking and I have enough wet/warm weather gear not to need a fire for those purposes.
I also can’t be bothered with waiting around until the fire is completely out before going to sleep.
I do occasionally take my Emberlit Fireant stove if I want to have a small fire. That way the use of fuel is minimised and, once I stop feeding it, it is fully out in a few minutes. I can also hide the small amount of ash so it doesn’t leave a sign.

Anecdote: I did a short overnighter a week ago and ended up in a campground with a few other groups. I overheard one of them talking about doing an hour-long hike to catch the sunset. I offered to keep an eye on their quite large fire while they were away. They looked at me with surprise as if they hadn’t considered it at all then one of them said “I suppose we shouldn’t leave it unattended!”
ChrisJHC
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
 
Posts: 586
Joined: Sat 25 Feb, 2017 8:22 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby Zapruda » Sun 10 Jan, 2021 2:58 pm

Lophophaps wrote:
Interestingly, some huts have a camp fire ban but have a stove or fireplace. This is so for much of Kosciuszko and Alpine National Parks. Hut fireplaces are quite inefficient, and some hut stoves are badly designed. Popular places like the Guthega Power Station-Schlink corridor (Kosciuszko NP) and Feathertop (Alpine NP) have many summer and winter visitors. Some commercial groups have a tendency to lack awareness of camp fire protocols.


This is actually not correct, at least for KNP.

NPWS state that - “No open or wood fires are permitted in alpine areas outside hut fireplaces.”

https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/sa ... your-tripI’m

The keyword here is “alpine”. The alpine zone in Australia is considered to start at around 1850m. They don’t want idiots lighting fires on the Main Range for example. But at 1700m at Whites River Hut in the sub alpine zone, lighting a fire is ok.

In my opinion, fires should be made when they are needed and not for pleasure. Pleasure includes for cooking if you had an option to bring a stove. If you need to have a fire, make sure that conditions and the location are suitable for it.

Fires in huts are fine as long as they are kept small and extinguished when left unattended.
User avatar
Zapruda
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1524
Joined: Thu 07 Apr, 2016 10:46 am
Region: Australian Capital Territory
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby Lophophaps » Sun 10 Jan, 2021 4:11 pm

Zapruda, thanks for the clarification. I was unaware of the KNP alpine camp fire ban.

A few years ago I was going from the Blue Lake circuit track (or whatever it's called) to Townsend. This is a rough track, a bit hard to follow in places, and well above the treeline. I saw a garbage bag full of kindling. It seems that someone was going to light a fire towards Townsend, and mercifully gave up.

You said "If you need to have a fire, make sure that conditions and the location are suitable for it." This is a good summary.
User avatar
Lophophaps
Auctorita modica
Auctorita modica
 
Posts: 3011
Joined: Wed 09 Nov, 2011 9:45 am
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby ribuck » Sun 10 Jan, 2021 11:59 pm

peregrinator wrote:I grant you that gas canisters have negative environmental consequences. But if I boil water using a small portable stove to prepare a dehydrated meal, taking five to ten minutes, that’s a tiny amount of fuel compared to what is burnt in a single typical wood campfire that might burn for many hours.

"Every ton of steel produced in 2018 emitted on average 1.85 tons of carbon dioxide" (source)

A gas canister containing 100g fuel weighs about 200g total, i.e. the canister itself weighs about 100g. So manufacturing one empty cannister causes the emission of 185g carbon dioxide. Butane is C4H10, so 100g butane contains 83g Carbon, which burns to produce 303g carbon dioxide. So the total greenhouse gas consequence of burning 100g gas is 488grams of carbon dioxide. (Propane is C3H8, and the carbon impact is not hugely different).

Burning local wood releases exactly the same amount of carbon that the wood captured while it was growing, in other words it's carbon neutral over a timespan of less than a century.
User avatar
ribuck
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1576
Joined: Wed 15 May, 2013 3:47 am
Region: Other Country
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby tom_brennan » Mon 11 Jan, 2021 11:06 am

Doing most of my walking in the parks of the eastern ranges, we would have a fire on most walks, and often would not bother carrying a stove. Most of that walking is in remote areas, so we have a small fire, and then we make sure that there's no sign of it the next day when we leave.

I tend to find that a campfire acts as a social focus. Without a fire, people tend to wander off to bed straight after dinner, and it definitely makes for a less social walk.

The main argument against fires that I can see is that poor fire practices by some walkers lead to bushfire.

The carbon dioxide impact from bushwalkers' fires is immaterial compared to say last fire season (or any fire season for that matter).

I appreciate that in certain other parts of Australia, fires are inappropriate.
Bushwalking NSW - http://bushwalkingnsw.com
User avatar
tom_brennan
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1228
Joined: Wed 29 Sep, 2010 9:21 am
Location: Sydney
Region: New South Wales
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby north-north-west » Mon 11 Jan, 2021 5:44 pm

sandym wrote:My opinion is that the age of campfires is over. There are simply too many people out there who are not taking adequate precautions. Why anyone wants to sit around breathing in toxic particulate matter is an anathema to me. I also find the ubiquitous fire pits unsightly and polluting.


Agreed. I've never understood the apparent need some people have to light a fire whenever they are out bush, regardless of the weather.

In Tassie, no fires are permitted in WHAs or NPs, except in built fireplaces in a few designated locations. And yet ... I've seen the remains of fires (and wood collected for them) in the Western Arthurs, the Walls, Freycinet, the CP ...

re Lops' "bag of kindling"; once camping up near Townsend, a bunch of people were setting up camp out towards Alice Rawson. They had carried wood up and were preparing a fire when I went over and got a bit stroppy. They insisted they weren't aware of the fire ban - despite it being impossible to walk in there without passing at least two signs saying that fires were forbidden on the Main Range.

People suck. Fires are not necessary, they can do a lot of damage, and collection of wood is an unnecessary disturbance of the natural ecosystem.
"Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens."
User avatar
north-north-west
Lagarostrobos franklinii
Lagarostrobos franklinii
 
Posts: 13224
Joined: Thu 14 May, 2009 7:36 pm
Location: The Asylum
ASSOCIATED ORGANISATIONS: Social Misfits Anonymous
Region: Tasmania

Re: Campfires

Postby peregrinator » Mon 11 Jan, 2021 7:58 pm

ribuck wrote:
peregrinator wrote:I grant you that gas canisters have negative environmental consequences. But if I boil water using a small portable stove to prepare a dehydrated meal, taking five to ten minutes, that’s a tiny amount of fuel compared to what is burnt in a single typical wood campfire that might burn for many hours.


"Every ton of steel produced in 2018 emitted on average 1.85 tons of carbon dioxide" (source)

A gas canister containing 100g fuel weighs about 200g total, i.e. the canister itself weighs about 100g. So manufacturing one empty cannister causes the emission of 185g carbon dioxide. Butane is C4H10, so 100g butane contains 83g Carbon, which burns to produce 303g carbon dioxide. So the total greenhouse gas consequence of burning 100g gas is 488grams of carbon dioxide. (Propane is C3H8, and the carbon impact is not hugely different).

Burning local wood releases exactly the same amount of carbon that the wood captured while it was growing, in other words it's carbon neutral over a timespan of less than a century.


Thank you for providing some science to counter my hypothesising. I had not considered that steel production contributed to carbon emissions as significantly as described. Bear in mind though that steel can be recycled, so the figures must be revised to reflect that. See:

https://www.msrgear.com/blog/recycling- ... canisters/

Is burning wood “carbon neutral”? I’m reading contrary arguments? Can you suggest links that support your opinion so that I may examine them?

There are several reasons why leaving dead wood on the ground has benefits for habitats. See, especially point 6 in the first link:

https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topi ... ss-listing

https://treesforlife.org.uk/into-the-fo ... and-decay/
peregrinator
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1459
Joined: Fri 15 Apr, 2011 2:50 pm
Region: Victoria

Re: Campfires

Postby Neo » Mon 11 Jan, 2021 8:40 pm

On the carbon footprint of a canister of gas, don't forget the making of the can, transporting the steel and the gas to make the product, transporting the can to the shops then home again etc. Then also disposal or recycling of. All minor additions per item (of everything!).

I agree with Lops, many people haven't learnt things yet or had the opportunity.

Yes people suck. Sometimes not their fault. Sometimes unchangeable, as in limited hope for perception beyond their moment/world/brains view.
Neo
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1628
Joined: Wed 31 Aug, 2016 4:53 pm
Location: Port Macquarie NSW
Region: New South Wales
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby tom_brennan » Tue 12 Jan, 2021 7:13 am

peregrinator wrote:Is burning wood “carbon neutral”? I’m reading contrary arguments? Can you suggest links that support your opinion so that I may examine them?


In theory, any fuel (including coal or gas) can be carbon neutral, if the rate that it replenishes is faster than the rate that it's being used. Of course, for coal or gas, we're talking tens to hundreds of millions of years - so in a human time scale, it's not renewable or carbon neutral!

The reason that there is debate over whether burning wood is carbon neutral is more around commercial wood fired power (wood pellet power). Is the biomass being burnt is actually being replaced/regrown at a sustainable rate, and over what time scale? This is because the world needs a significant reduction in CO2 over the next 20-30 years, while forests may take up to 100 years or more to fully regrow.
Bushwalking NSW - http://bushwalkingnsw.com
User avatar
tom_brennan
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1228
Joined: Wed 29 Sep, 2010 9:21 am
Location: Sydney
Region: New South Wales
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby ribuck » Tue 12 Jan, 2021 8:16 am

peregrinator wrote:Bear in mind though that steel can be recycled, so the figures must be revised to reflect that.

Recycling steel is better than manufacturing new steel, but nevertheless it's a process that uses a lot of energy and a lot of fresh water, and produces a lot of toxins including dioxins.

peregrinator wrote:Is burning wood “carbon neutral”? I’m reading contrary arguments? Can you suggest links that support your opinion so that I may examine them?

The only contrary arguments I'm aware of relate to the commercial burning of wood for heat or power. In those cases, the wood is heated to dry it out and kill insects, then milled into pellets and transported to the power station. That's certainly not carbon neutral, nor environmentally desirable. But campfires are burning local fallen wood without any processing or transport.

I'm not sure what type of supporting links you're requesting, but the Khan Academy article on photosynthesis is very readable, and sufficient for our purposes:
https://www.khanacademy.org/science/ap- ... osynthesis

Plants grow by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and drawing up water from the soil. The energy from sunlight converts the carbon dioxide and water molecules into glucose and oxygen molecules, the oxygen being released into the atmosphere. The glucose, together with minerals absorbed from the soil, is converted into new plant matter. When the plant dies or is burned, the glucose (or rather, the plant material formed from it) is oxidised, producing water and carbon dioxide equal to that used for growth, and releasing as heat roughly the same amount of energy as it took for the plant to grow. Incombustible materials remain as ash or are dispersed into the atmosphere as smoke. Over the life cycle of a plant, the carbon dioxide absorbed equals the carbon dioxide released.

In natural decay, not all of the plant's carbon goes directly into the atmosphere. Some can accumulate as humus on the surface of the soil, of which some is eventually worked into the soil where it is stored long-term. For this reason, it's environmentally preferable to leave plants to decay rather than to use them for food or energy, but I'm assuming that we don't wish to go cold and hungry, and are considering the relative merits of using gas or wood for heating and cooking.

peregrinator wrote:There are several reasons why leaving dead wood on the ground has benefits for habitats. See, especially point 6...

Oh, I don't doubt it. Similarly, not growing and harvesting food for humans also has benefits for habitats, by leaving dead plant matter on the ground. But I'd like to see a planet with great habitats AND great lives for people. I'm satisfied that we can have both, because nature has many regenerative processes, and if we stay within their capacity we can have a great life for people and a great planet for all organisms.

So the question I care about is whether it's preferable to use wood or gas to enhance my camping trip. When I consider (a) the pollution and environmental degradation associated with the industrial processes needed to produce, fill and transport gas cannisters, and (b) the fact that burning gas increases atmospheric CO2 long-term (not just until the next tree grows) - a wood-fuelled campfire seems to me to be a clear winner.

Coming back to the invertebrates who thrive on dead wood left on the ground, I also note that these invertebrates have evolved to reproduce in huge numbers but to tolerate low individual survival rates (e.g. due to predation, physical harm, or environmental insufficiency). The species as a whole can still thrive on a planet with occasional areas that lack fallen wood, such as found around popular campsites.
User avatar
ribuck
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1576
Joined: Wed 15 May, 2013 3:47 am
Region: Other Country
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby CBee » Tue 12 Jan, 2021 2:30 pm

Great post, ribuck.
CBee
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 300
Joined: Fri 21 Dec, 2018 7:18 am
Region: Queensland

Re: Campfires

Postby crollsurf » Tue 12 Jan, 2021 3:00 pm

If the authorities say it's OK, it's OK.
Anyone you thinks it's environmental vandalism, please post a list of your hiking gear!!
The environmental footprint is small compared to even the resources taken for me to write this post and for you to read it. (don't ask me to do the maths on that one though)
The problem isn't the campfire per se, its the campers who are either ignorant or willfully negligent in there actions.
User avatar
crollsurf
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1486
Joined: Tue 07 Mar, 2017 10:07 am
Location: Sydney
Region: New South Wales
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby rcaffin » Tue 12 Jan, 2021 6:34 pm

On the carbon footprint of a canister of gas, don't forget the making of the can, transporting the steel and the gas to make the product, transporting the can to the shops then home again etc. Then also disposal or recycling of.
Disposal? Recycling ??
How about refilling?
I very rarely throw a canister away.

The problems with campfires are many:
Bushfire hazard, becoming severe
Fire bans
Embers falling on your tent
Pots falling over on the fire
Food burning when the fire is hotter than expected in one corner
Smoke getting in your eyes
Smoke making your clothing smell
Lack of fuel in alpine areas
Freezing your butt off when snow camping
Getting soaked when it is raining
Finding dry wood in rain-forest valleys

Cheers
Roger
User avatar
rcaffin
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1010
Joined: Thu 17 Jul, 2008 3:46 pm

Re: Campfires

Postby Neo » Tue 12 Jan, 2021 6:43 pm

Current theory is fire enabled hominids to cook their food which makes more nutrients readily available for digestion which over time lead to our increased brain size and adaptability.
Neo
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1628
Joined: Wed 31 Aug, 2016 4:53 pm
Location: Port Macquarie NSW
Region: New South Wales
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby ribuck » Tue 12 Jan, 2021 11:49 pm

Fire is part of the cultural heritage of every human. The mastery of fire is the one thing that uniquely distinguishes us from other members of the animal kingdom - and, as neo pointed out, it led to the differentiation of our species from other primates. Some of us (most of us?) still experience a cultural or evolutionary drive to seek pleasure and comfort from a campfire.

I don't see any reason to discourage the use of small-scale fire. It connects people to the natural world in a way that manufactured products never will. And if people don't permit that connection, the next generation will only know and care about the manufactured products around which their new culture is built.
User avatar
ribuck
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1576
Joined: Wed 15 May, 2013 3:47 am
Region: Other Country
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby north-north-west » Wed 13 Jan, 2021 7:53 am

iTs MuH hErItAgE!!! :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll:

I would have thought that being out in the bush, walking, exploring, camping out there, is a bigger and closer connection to the natural world than lighting a fire (which can be done almost anywhere).

Can we at least be honest here? Those arguing in favour of campfires like having a fire for various personal reasons. Those arguing against generally don't. Personally, the smell of smoke when I'm out bush brings back too many unpleasant (downright traumatic, in fact) memories. 1967 was no joke, and it was neither the first nor the last.
There are good reasons not to have them (safety, environment, convenience [seriously, they're dirty, inefficient, time consuming]) and situations where they can be justified. But let's give over the pretence that there is really that much logic behind our individual positions on this matter.
"Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens."
User avatar
north-north-west
Lagarostrobos franklinii
Lagarostrobos franklinii
 
Posts: 13224
Joined: Thu 14 May, 2009 7:36 pm
Location: The Asylum
ASSOCIATED ORGANISATIONS: Social Misfits Anonymous
Region: Tasmania

Re: Campfires

Postby clarence » Wed 13 Jan, 2021 9:03 am

People get all upset about fires, forgetting that in many areas we currently walk the aboriginals were pattern burning them for thousands of years.

This mentality of driving to the bush on roads sealed in petroleum based tars, in a metal car that uses fossil fuels, eating food in plastic and steel packaging then getting upset that someone is having a little campfire is quite bizarre. Discussions about CO2 emissions from campfires are ludicrous, when 99% of people get to their bushwalking destinations in cars with combustion engines.

It is about how and where the fire is done, rather than a "yes or no" question.

Idiots will always light fires, no matter what the rules.

I love a fire, and if conditions are okay- sometimes a very big one- but always remove all evidence once we are done.

One of my bushwalking mates, who was walking before many on here were born (and is a very active conservationist) occasionally has huge fires and they rock. Anyone who thinks that fires are dirty, slow and inefficient has not seen someone like John light a (small) fire and have his meal cooked while everyone else is still getting their stoves ready.

Love your logic too Ribuck.

Clarence
clarence
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 313
Joined: Sun 12 Feb, 2012 7:52 pm
Region: Tasmania
Gender: Male

Re: Campfires

Postby Baeng72 » Wed 13 Jan, 2021 9:26 am

OK, my turn to add nothing...
De gustibus non disputandum. We're arguing tastes/desires here.
I think NNW is correct, we are using a patina of logic to justify our stance, and we aren't going to change our mind based on what someone who disagrees with us says.
We'll agree with the logic that suits our existing position.

My concern isn't with well behaved campers who make sure the fire is out and can light a fire that makes you think the laws of thermodynamics and energy conservation are false (apparently clean, super amount of heat, and no apparent ash from tiny amount of fuel).
It's just with climate change, everything is ready to conflagrate, you can't make rules for knobs and not for careful experts, so we all get lumped into no fires rules.
But, In an emergency situation, light a fire to save a life, deal with legality later...
Baeng72
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 454
Joined: Wed 07 Aug, 2019 2:29 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Next

Return to Bushwalking Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests