Sunday, February 5, 2012

Burn It! Burn It!

This is an interesting post from Sam Harris (via the Friendly Atheist), in which he explains the many negative effects of wood fires, noting that the crackle of a fire and the scent of wood smoke are dear to many, but saying that it's hideously polluting and bad for your health to burn wood.

One is left with the impression that all of us who don't depend on it for life or health should pretty much cease and desist our wood-burning activities immediately.

Since so many people feel strongly about a nice wood fire, however, he makes an interesting comparison to the way many people feel strongly attached to religion, to the extent that trying to rationally persuade someone out of a religious belief (or a conviction that a nice bonfire or crackling hearth are good things), may be impossible.


Growing up in the backwoods in the 1920s as I did, we often had wood-burning stoves and campfires for heat and cooking. And I have certainly enjoyed a good bonfire as much as the next person. Roasting a marshmallow on a long stick...good clean fun, surely! Well, not clean, the marshmallows invariably get sticky and burnt, but good wholesome fun.

On the other hand, having relied on firewood for practical things in the past, I may have a less fond view of it than some, since it was just what we used and not a fun ritual or anything.

Honestly, I'm willing to forego wood fires in future, having learned that they're dreadful for your lungs.

That doesn't mean I'm more rational and ruled by cold common sense than people who are more attached to their wood fires, of course, just that my irrational attachment must be to something else.

I should try to figure out what it that I can bury the secret so deeply that no one ever learns it, for surely it will be my undoing should it be discovered! I've read books before, I know how it works.

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