Climate change and wildfires

2017-08-16

in Economics, Science, The environment

Through a variety of mechanisms, anthropogenic climate change is worsening wildfires. For instance, warm winter temperatures were a key factor in British Columbia’s apalling mountain pine beetle epidemic, and trees killed by the beetles may be more susceptible to fire. More directly, high temperatures dry out forests and raise fire risks.

Page 44 of the divestment brief summarizes some of the research on climate change and wildfires.

Fires also contribute to the worsening severity of climate change, both by releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide and by producing dark soot which absorbs energy from sunlight.

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. August 18, 2017 at 3:23 pm
. February 21, 2020 at 3:09 pm

The lessons from Australia’s fires
Other countries are vulnerable

Another lesson is that as fires get worse the old ways of assessing and containing them have become obsolete. Unlikely as it may seem, Australia’s fire-planning is ahead of most of the world’s—it carries out preventive burns, for example, and its planning codes seek to limit fire risks. Nonetheless this system, and a heroic voluntary firefighting force, has been overwhelmed. Attention must now turn to how to live with fires. In some places, that will mean building structures that can resist the flames. Other regions may no longer be suitable for human habitation. If governments and residents do not act, financial markets will. In California insurance firms have lost $24bn from recent fires, and the cost of bundling and reinsuring these risks is soaring as investors become unwilling to underwrite homes in dangerous places.

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