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US wildfires are what global warming really looks like, scientists warn

July 1, 2012

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Scorching heat, high winds and bone-dry conditions are fueling catastrophic wildfires in the US west that offer a preview of the kind of disasters that human-caused climate change could bring, a trio of scientists said on Thursday.

“What we’re seeing is a window into what global warming really looks like,” said Princeton University’s Michael Oppenheimer, a lead author for the UN’s climate science panel. “It looks like heat, it looks like fires, it looks like this kind of environmental disaster … This provides vivid images of what we can expect to see more of in the future.”

In Colorado, wildfires that have raged for weeks have killed four people, displaced thousands and destroyed hundreds of homes. Because winter snowpack was lighter than usual and melted sooner, fire season started earlier in the US west, with wildfires out of control in Colorado, Montana and Utah.

The high temperatures that are helping drive these fires are consistent with projections by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which said this kind of extreme heat, with little cooling overnight, is one kind of damaging impact of global warming.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    October 27, 2012 8:43 pm

    Fires are a natural occurrence in nature. It is actually very good for the soils and overall health of the forest floor. The well established trees would remain intact if they had been allowed to burn years ago, as is natural. Some evergreens have natural fire resistance within the bark.

    However, if it is our desire to try and stop these fires then proper forest management needs to be allowed. From what I understand, current federal regulation does not allow for proper forest management to help minimize these fires.

    Forest undergrowth is allowed to over accumulate. The accumulation occurred because past forest fires were not allowed to take their course and naturally clean the forest floor. Then when fires do occur, they are much worse, than they otherwise would have been if they had been allowed to take natures course or proper manual management of undergrowth needs to occur. The added accumulation gives more fuel to the fire. Which makes the fire burn longer, slower and the natural protection the established trees have is ineffective, and they parish as well. If nature is allowed to clean itself and clean the forest floor as needed the larger trees would remain intact and the remains of the fire fertilize the soil. It’s the circle of life….

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