Clash of The Titans XIII: Fire

February 15, 2008, 12:00 pm; posted by
Filed under Debate, Djere, Job  | No Comments

Originally printed on April 13, 2007.

In this corner, arguing that fire is overrated, is Job!

And in this corner, supporting fire, is Djere!

Fire as a survival tool? Yeah, whatever. Fire? You’re dead to me…

I understand that when man first left the Garden, fire may have played a very important role in the survival and perpetuation of our species. Whether it was used for cooking bacteria out of meat or as an agent of warmth, I’m sure fire proved priceless to our ancestors.

But I believe we need to ask ourselves, “Fire, what have you done for me lately?”

If my little single-engine plane crashed in Alaska, leaving my bush pilot dead and me miraculously alive, you best believe I ain’t wastin’ none of my precious time or energy runnin’ around like JoJo the Idiot Circus Clown, trying to make fire. What’s it gonna do, really? Warm my extremities? Cook the snow rabbit I’ll never catch? I’m sure that’s how most search and rescue people find their targets — hunched over some feeble kindling and moss, the face of their watch frozen in their hand, telling the tale of their futile and desperate efforts to refract sunshine into flame.

Me? They’ll find me back at base camp, ripping through some MREs, reading the newspaper, and telling them where I left the bush pilot. Wanna know why? I didn’t stay put and waste my time on combustion; I sucked it up and com-busted my way right outta there!

Okay, I can hear you now. “Job, you’re an idiot!” “Job, you’re gonna die.” “No, Job, seriously, you’re an idiot.” But perhaps I’m just forward-thinking. For centuries people thought Earth was flat, and as a result, tethered themselves to familiar ports, afraid to sail off the edge of the world. Similarly, for centuries, people in survival situations have trusted Fire to save their sorry selves, and they’ve stayed tethered to their locations, rubbing sticks together and acting like they actually know what flint is, SOSing themselves crazy.

But me? I’m a latter-day Columbus, willing to thumb my nose at accepted science and Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria-ing myself to new frontiers.

Fire might be a luxury, but when it comes to survival, it is SO overrated.

Of all the survival tips, tools, and tricks, fire is the American Express: don’t leave home without it.

Any storied mercenary, mountaineer, or adventurer such as myself will tell you that when it comes to surviving the chilling cold winter winds of Siberia, the torrential monsoons of Southeast Asia, or a hostile desert crawling with wildlife, without fire, you will die.

You. Will. Die.

The benefits of fire are obvious and threefold.

First, heat. When the sun goes down, Earth loses its heat source. When the planet loses its heat source, so do you. And a survival situation is more than just the discomfort you face while jogging six blocks down the street to Starbucks to get warm, Job. When base camp is hundreds of miles away, when there are no straight lines to gauge direction and distance, when you’re injured and you can’t just follow your nose back to your Froot Loops, what will you do? When hypothermia sets in, there’s only one way to stave off the cold that permeates, debilitates, and suffocates. Fire will save your life.

Second, protection. Most of the predators that will attack a human in the wild are both nocturnal and opportunistic. Wolves, jackals, jihadists, dingos, and ROUSes all attack under the cover of darkness. Light from a fire will reveal your enemy and, in a pinch, make for an effective weapon. Use of tools separates the higher primates from the lower primates; use of fire separates us from the higher primates. Every other creature is instinctively afraid of the very tool some would so callously cast aside — fire will save your life.

Third, morale. The greatest obstacle to survival is not nature, predators, or enemy combatants. It’s human nature. Fear and hopelessness will debilitate you more effectively than any RPG: from the inside out. If your survival depends on others, keeping morale high will increase your chances immensely. In the cold and dark, fear creeps in, and though light and heat may seem like creature comforts, they’ll keep you sane. Fire will save your life.

As a luxury item, fire is overrated. But as a survival tool, it’s next to none.

Fire will save your life.



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