Problems, paradoxes, paradigms: triangulating fire research

Stephen Pyne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Wildland fire research has historically orbited around a physical paradigm of fire. This strategy has yielded remarkable results, yet increasingly it cannot speak to the core issues that concern fire management. Two additional paradigms are needed. One would build on fire's origins in the living world. The other would evolve out of fire's significance to humanity, and humanity's unblinking importance to fire's presence on Earth. Note that each paradigm is coherent in itself, that each is capable of absorbing the others, and that each is insufficient on its own. It is unlikely that a master synthesis of these conceptions will emerge, and is not necessary. The need is to sustain research that addresses how fire really exists, not how select sciences can handle it. This essay sketches what the resulting fire-research triangle might look like.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-276
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2007


  • Anthropogenic fire
  • Biology of fire
  • Culture of fire
  • Fire modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology


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