Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Climate change: Burning the planet

Its official: climate change has doubled the area affected by forest fires. We are literally burning the planet:

Global warming has caused the area affected by forest fires in the western United States to double over the last 30 years – and the problem will continue to get worse until the trees start to run out, according to new research.

Higher air temperatures dry out vegetation, making it more prone to combust, as witnessed with increasing ferocity in states like California and Oregon.

While some parts of the world will get wetter as the climate warms, fires have been increasing in places like the Amazon, Indonesia and Canada's boreal forests.


An extra 4.2 million hectares of forest fires – about 16,000 square miles, the same area as Denmark – were estimated to have been caused by human-induced climate change between 1984 and 2015, according to a paper in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This increase nearly doubled the area that would have burned if the temperature had not risen, the researchers found.

And they're expecting exponential increases for the next few decades, as past emissions cause temperature rises. This in turn has a real risk of creating positive feedback, as emissions from forest fires drive more fires.

This obviously isn't good news for people who live near forests, as in California, Canada and Australia. If they want their homes to not burn down, they really need to get their governments to stop polluting.