A landmark United Nations report has concluded that climate change further intensifies what the report describes as a “global wildfire crisis.” Via the New York Times:
The scientific assessment is the first by the organization’s environmental authority to evaluate wildfire risks worldwide. It was inspired by a string of deadly blazes around the globe in recent years, burning the American West, vast stretches of Australia and even the Arctic.
The images from those fires — cities glowing under orange skies, smoke billowing around tourist havens and heritage sites, woodland animals badly injured and killed — have become grim icons of this era of unsettled relations between humankind and nature.
“The heating of the planet is turning landscapes into tinderboxes,” said the report, which was published on Wednesday by the United Nations Environment Program.
The report, produced by more than 50 researchers from six continents, estimated that the risk worldwide of highly devastating fires could increase by up to 57 percent by the end of the century, primarily because of climate change. The risks will not be distributed equally: Some regions are likely to see more fire activity, while others may experience less.
It was ten years ago that I first read this Rolling Stone piece, "Climate Change and The End of Australia." The continent is a perfect storm of factors, including climate patterns and the country's coal monopoly.
"Want to know what global warming has in store for us? Just go to Australia, where rivers are drying up, reefs are dying, and fires and floods are ravaging the continent," the article began.
I remember one of the most terrifying things I've ever read, and this image has stayed with me through the years:
The firestorm sweeping across the hillside was like nothing she – or anyone – had ever seen before. A wall of flame moving at eight miles per hour was incinerating everything in its path. O’Connor hurried to stuff wet towels under the doors while her husband soaked down the yard with a hose. But within minutes, she heard a deafening roar. Looking out the window, she saw a “hurricane of fire” – flames shooting 70 feet into the air, fanned by the high winds created by the storm’s thermal vacuum. As trees burst into flames, O’Connor and her husband narrowly escaped to a nearby house that was more fire-resistant.
Let's close with brain-addled amateur philosopher Jordan Peterson and professional clown Joe Rogan on climate change: