Thursday, May 05, 2016

"There Have Always Been Fires. There Have Always Been Floods"

Right you are, Cap'n Sunni Ways. We've always had forest fires in Canada. Good of you to point that out.  Maybe you're more than a pretty face.

Only what you should have said or perhaps even noticed is how that's been changing since you grew out of Pampers. least as early as 1993, scientific papers were exploring the link between rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, global warming and longer Canadian fire seasons.

It's a global phenomenon. A 2015 study in the journal Nature Communications found that between 1979 and 2013 the fire season has lengthened for more than a quarter of the planet's surface vegetation. In South America, the fire season has increased by an average 33 days. Globally, CO2 from wildfires can amount to more than half of all emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Alberta's wildfire season used to start at the beginning of April. Now it begins March 1.

"This is a foretaste of things to come," Mike Flannigan, professor of wildland fire at the University of Alberta, said in an interview Wednesday.

Looking at the annual Canadian fire data shows a series of spikes in area burned, said Flannigan. But using 10-year averages, he said, reveals that about one million hectares of forest burned annually in the early 1970s, a number that's now averaging well over two million hectares.

The three essential elements of wildfires are fuel, ignition sources and weather — with dry, hot weather impacting the quality of the fuel and both the sources and ease of ignition.

Sure, Junior, there have always been fires. Only they're a lot worse now than they used to be and it's your job to know the difference and do something about it. They're worse now - more frequent, bigger, more destructive - and there's worse to come, a lot worse.

Now stop looking like the deer caught in the headlights and deal with this.

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