It seems as if the whole world has been plagued by an increase in wildfires over the last few years – from the recent fire in Alberta to fires that consumed Kansas and Oklahoma before that to even before in 2015, when Mongolia, China and Siberia were badly affected. New records of the amount of land burned are being set worldwide. This year in the US, it was 10 million acres, last year in the US it was just 316,000. Reports have been pouring in as scientists claim that these fires have been caused by global warming and will not stop.
Speaking to CBS News about the Alberta fire that destroyed Fort McMurray, a geography professor at University of California at Los Angeles named Glen MacDonald said that the Canadian wildfire is ‘just not surprising’ considering the effects of global warming in the country.
This is one of the parts of the world that has seen warmer and warmer winters and accelerated springs and drier conditions, which are linked to increasing atmospheric greenhouse gasses and the long-term warming that we’ve seen. It’s just not surprising that you would have an event like this.
Factors that drive global warming such as rapidly melting snow, dries out vegetation, making forest ecosystems prone to wildfire. Thomas W. Swetnam who works as a scientist at the University of Arizona and specializes in the history and ecology of wildfires, spoke to The New York Times, saying that ‘we probably wouldn’t be seeing the scale of some of these fires if it weren’t for those factors’ of global warming.
It’s clear that the warming temperatures and extraordinary drought are major players here. We probably wouldn’t be seeing the scale of some of these fires if it weren’t for those factors.
Brian J. Stocks, who was with the Canadian Forest Service and had issued a forecast for just these events back in 1990 has said that the world is now ‘at a crossroads’.
We’re kind of at a crossroads. We anticipate more fires, and more intense fires, in the future.