A new report suggests that wild fires are 60% more likely as a result of global warming. This study was done very quickly, so some scientists are skeptical of this claim. Whichever camp is right, wild fires are a serious problem this year, many of them breaking records. Of course the hellish heat dominating much of North America and Europe is record breaking too. The heat did not let up in the eastern and mid US until July 9th. Many cities in the eastern US that had been hit by storms were without power during the heat wave. As best we know, severe heat is still affecting Bosnia, and parts of Alberta was baking with temperatures in excess of 40ºC (104ºF) with the humidex. We have seen story after story about these fires and heat. Many of them were sparked by the drought conditions that predominated in the spring. While la nina makes drought more likely, the amount we saw suggests that global warming is to blame.
There are new massive blazes that firefighters are dealing with. One fire in Siberia is so huge that it is casting haze over British Columbia. The smoke contains around 84 parts per billion of ozone, a gas harmful to human health. Ozone levels have only been this high three times in seven years, according to officials. The smoke also contained other pollutants. Notably, it contains a great deal of CO2, which of course causes feedback and furthers global warming. There is a new fire in Merritt, B.C., known for its annual country music festival, which is largely under control. The blaze was 1.5 square miles (3.9 square km) at its peak. Another fire in Alberta, Canada forced the evacuation of a hamlet there. In Boise, Idaho, a fire is raging out of control at 117 square miles (305 square km). Fire fighters are battling another monster conflagration in Wyoming, that one consuming 138 square miles (357 square km.)
With the severe fire season we are having this year, the prospect of a 60% increase in their likelihood, even if that likelihood is substantially small to begin with, is rather alarming.
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