April 3rd, 2005:
Very soon, it will be summer. In fact, this summer is predicted by some scientists to be one of the hottest summers in the last 100 years. They are expected heat-waves and wide spread crop failure.
But what the United States government is worried about is not crop famine.
On March 28th, Homeland Security held a press conference and revealed that they now had an anti-pyroterrorist taskforce.
And then two days ago, April 1st, George W. Bush announced that "Anyone caught deliberately setting forest fires as an act of pyroterrorism will be dealt with the same way we treat other terrorists."
Being April Fools Day, I thought he might be joking, but somehow I doubt it. During the last 4 years of Bush's presidency, there has been pyroterrorist acts committed EVERY summer. The huge forest fires in California that destroyed part of L.A. last summer was the largest of these.
This says to me that either the pyroterrorists are getting smarter and learning how to create bigger, more unstoppable forest fires... or there are copycats who want to do the same thing.
But WHAT is Pyroterrorism you may be asking?
Well, its basically one of the oldest and most effective forms of pyroterrorism: Lighting your enemies' property on fire, whether it be their buildings, their forests, their crops, their car... anything that can be lit on fire or blown up is a possible target.
The real threat is when the blaze gets out of control and takes out whole suburbs, thousands of miles of crops or forest. And even after the fire is put out, mudslides from erosion can destroy the landscape months afterwards.
The worst time of the year for pyroterrorists to strike is late June, followed by additional attacks in July and August. Why? Because late June has the lowest pricipitation average. May is usually rainy, but late June until early August is usually plagued by dry-spells. September is sometimes quite dry as well.
And anywhere that there is a dry-spell, a drought or a heat wave is a tempting target for a pyroterrorist.
Back in April 2001 the US government conducted tests to see which areas are most vulnerable to forest fires. They released this chart:
And sadly it doesn't take much to light a forest fire. Gasoline, lighter fluid. Simple matches WILL not work, the blaze will go out by itself. No it takes something more large scale, like a gallon of gasoline spread over a wider area, such as dry grass or leaves.
Dry crops is another issue. A field of corn during the height of a drought.
But what I find bothersome, is just HOW exactly does this new taskforce from Homeland Security plan to CATCH pyroterrorists? They can't just go around arresting everyone with matches or a lighter. And is George W. Bush just trying to look tough on terrorism when it comes to pyroterrorists? Does he really think that they will even CATCH a pyroterrorist, let alone be able to prove that he/she was the one that started the fire?
What happens if there is more than 1 pyroterrorist, as I mentioned before? Copycats or even an organized group of them that decide to go for a joyride one weekend and see how many forest fires they can start?
And beyond all of this, where do these pyroterrorists come from? Are they real terrorists from overseas, or are they home-grown and just want to lash out against the government?
The Summer of 2005 may be a summer to remember.