Western US Wildfires Caused by Climate Change

climate and forest firesA new study identifies climate change as a primary cause of more frequent, intense and large wildfires in the western United States (more | more2). Over eleven hundred forest wildfires between 1970 and 2003 that burned at least 1,000 acres were studied. Wildfires were found to be a major indicator of climate change impacting the continental United States now. Startlingly the fire season was found to have increased by two-and-one-half months. Rising global temperatures causing more severe fires are expected to change forest composition and their ability to store atmospheric carbon dioxide. Climate change impacted forests (search) adding carbon to the atmosphere is expected to drive temperatures even higher in a dangerous positive feedback loop. Meanwhile President Bush has stated he is “solving” global warming, perhaps referring to his policy of heavily logging these forests, with forest slash and open canopies making them even more combustible.

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