Written by James E. Kamis on 18January2015


The principles of Natural Selection are often summarized as: Adaption, Descent with Modification, Variation and Overproduction. We now think of ourselves as fully accepting these principles as both natural and necessary to maintain the health of all earth’s ecosystems. Turns out this perception is incorrect.

Take for example the U.S. Forest Service’s “Forest Fire Suppression Policy” that reigned supreme from the early 1900’s until 1995. During this time period, forest fires were considered extremely dangerous and harmful to both the public and the forests. It was clear to see. These monstrous walls of destruction raged through our beautiful forests, killing humans, animals, and plants, and destroying homes and property built in remote areas of woodland.

Even the worse forest fires were deemed unnatural and often the result of careless human practices such as campfires, discarded cigarettes, arson, etc. How could any rational person possibly see the benefit of these catastrophic and unnatural events?  Forestry experts agreed, and in fact applauded this policy.

Today’s forest management policies are quite different. We now accept forest fires as necessary agents of the natural selection process. They act to clean out overpopulation, promote biological diversity, provide varied food sources for animals, replenish soil nutrients, and dispose of aging trees, just to name a few. 

Why, given this lesson, do we still persist in misinterpreting nature’s other forest fire, El Niño?

Our poor understanding of El Niño’s has sparked the same reaction from many experts and the public alike…fear followed by a call for immediate and decisive action. Just do something, anything, even if we don’t fully understand the problem. Sound familiar?

Credible evidence now shows that El Niño’s are natural geological phenomenon, induced by deep ocean geothermal forces (El Niño’s Generated By Geological Heat Flow Not Global Warming). These forces emit heat and chemically charged fluids into the deep ocean, thereby acting just like land-based fires.

Do these El Nino forces kill certain portions of the reef systems? Well yes, though a better question to ask might be, are El Niño’s a necessary agent of the natural selection process?

Many experts, though thankfully not all, have sounded the alarm concerning the potentially catastrophic consequences of global warming induced El Niños: ocean acidification, death of our beautiful corals, and finally the complete destruction of the reef ecosystem. I would contend this an overly dramatic and premature alarm.

Research shows that swaths of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, damaged by the 1998 El Niño, have fully recovered, rebounding strong and healthy. So many questions arise. Do El Niño’s act to promote species diversity, “seed” corals to other locations, recharge the water chemistry, reduce overpopulation, etc.?

Let’s first confirm the cause and potential benefits of El Niño’s prior to instituting seemingly well-intentioned policies that would essentially be the modern day equivalent of the US Forest Service’s “Fire Prevention Policy.”