Sunday, July 30, 2006

Up in Smoke: Climate Change Burns the Planet

I have finally decided to blog this story about wild fires in the US and the link to climate change. Generally, i hesitate to publicise plain bad stories, i'd rather mention the success of new technologies, the insanity of current politics or the greenwashing of big business: actually reporting on the destruction to our planet that climate change is causing is, well, a bit bleak...this is serious shit people! Anyway...

Scripps recently sent out a press release about some research that they are headin up, the key finding of which are 1. that forest fires have increased dramatically in the pastcouple of decades

"The results point to a marked increase in large wildfires in western U.S. forests beginning around 1987, when the region shifted from predominantly infrequent large wildfires of short duration (average of one week) to more frequent and longer-burning wildfires (five weeks). The authors found a jump of four times the average number of wildfires beginning in the mid-1980s compared with the 1970s and early 1980s. The comparison showed that the total area burned was six and a half times greater. Also in the mid-1980s, the length of the yearly wildfire season (March through August) extended by 78 days, a 64 percent rise when comparing 1970-1986 with 1987-2003."

2. that this is likely to become uncontrolable as the climate warms.

"If climate warms markedly over today's levels, intensified fuels management and fire suppression are not likely to be effective in much of the western U.S., he said."


3. that the whole pacific northwest is likely to become a source of co2 in the near future, not a sink as it currently is; another damn posotive feedback!

"The authors conclude that the increased frequency of large and devastating wildfires may significantly change forest composition and reduce tree densities, transforming the western U.S. forests' role as a storage "sink" for sequestering some 20 to 40 percent of all U.S. carbon to a source for increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere."

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