Fires


Here is an article about climate-induced fires around the world, including suggestions on what we can do, how to prepare, and the impact of the fires on carbon and climate:



Global fires will increase as the planet warms.

The Growing Threat of Climate-Fueled Wildfires: Causes, Impacts, and Solutions

Introduction
In recent years, the world has witnessed an alarming increase in the frequency and intensity of wildfires. From the devastating bushfires in Australia to the record-breaking blazes in California, these fires have caused immense destruction to ecosystems, communities, and economies. The primary driver behind this surge in wildfires is climate change, which is creating hotter, drier conditions that are more conducive to the ignition and spread of fires. As the planet continues to warm, it is crucial that we understand the causes and impacts of these fires and take urgent action to mitigate their effects and adapt to the changing climate.

Causes of Climate-Induced Fires
The link between climate change and wildfires is well-established. As global temperatures rise, the Earth's atmosphere becomes warmer and drier, leading to more frequent and severe droughts. These droughts, in turn, create ideal conditions for wildfires to ignite and spread rapidly. Additionally, climate change is altering weather patterns, leading to more frequent and intense heatwaves, which further exacerbate the risk of fires.

Another factor contributing to the increase in wildfires is the accumulation of dry, flammable vegetation. As temperatures rise and droughts become more frequent, plants and trees become stressed and die, creating an abundance of dry fuel for fires to consume. This is particularly problematic in areas where fire suppression policies have allowed fuel loads to build up over time.

Human activities also play a significant role in the ignition of wildfires. Campfires, discarded cigarettes, and faulty power lines are just a few examples of how human negligence can spark fires in dry, fire-prone areas. As human populations continue to expand into wildland areas, the risk of human-caused fires will only increase.

Impacts of Wildfires
The impacts of wildfires are far-reaching and devastating. In addition to the immediate destruction of homes, infrastructure, and natural habitats, fires also have long-term effects on ecosystems, human health, and the global climate.

One of the most significant impacts of wildfires is the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. When trees and vegetation burn, they release the carbon they have stored over their lifetimes, contributing to the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. This, in turn, accelerates climate change, creating a vicious cycle of more frequent and intense fires.

Wildfires also have severe impacts on air quality, both locally and regionally. The smoke from fires contains a complex mixture of pollutants, including particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds, which can cause respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, and other health issues. In some cases, smoke from wildfires can travel hundreds or even thousands of miles, affecting communities far from the fire itself.

In addition to the impacts on human health, wildfires also have devastating effects on wildlife and ecosystems. Fires can destroy critical habitat, displace animals, and alter the composition of plant communities. While some ecosystems are adapted to periodic fires, the increasing frequency and intensity of fires driven by climate change can exceed their ability to recover, leading to long-term changes in biodiversity and ecosystem function.

Solutions and Adaptation Strategies
Addressing the growing threat of climate-induced wildfires will require a multi-faceted approach that includes both mitigation and adaptation strategies. Mitigation efforts should focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and slowing the pace of climate change, while adaptation strategies should aim to reduce the risks and impacts of fires on communities and ecosystems.

One key mitigation strategy is to transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal power. This will require significant investments in clean energy infrastructure and policies that incentivize the adoption of low-carbon technologies. Additionally, efforts to reduce deforestation and promote sustainable land management practices can help to preserve carbon sinks and reduce the risk of fires.

Adaptation strategies should focus on reducing the vulnerability of communities and ecosystems to the impacts of wildfires. This can include improving land use planning to reduce development in fire-prone areas, implementing building codes that require fire-resistant materials and designs, and developing early warning systems and evacuation plans to protect public safety.

Another important adaptation strategy is to improve wildfire management and response capabilities. This can include increasing funding for wildfire suppression and prevention efforts, investing in advanced technologies such as drones and satellite monitoring to detect and track fires, and promoting the use of prescribed burns and other fuel reduction techniques to reduce the risk of catastrophic fires.

Individuals and communities can also take steps to prepare for and reduce the impacts of wildfires. This can include creating defensible space around homes and buildings by clearing flammable vegetation, installing fire-resistant roofing and siding materials, and having an emergency supply kit and evacuation plan in place. Additionally, supporting local fire departments and participating in community wildfire preparedness programs can help to build resilience and reduce the risks posed by fires.

Conclusion
Climate-induced wildfires are a growing threat to communities, ecosystems, and the global climate. As temperatures continue to rise and droughts become more frequent and severe, the risk of catastrophic fires will only increase. Addressing this threat will require urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve land management practices, and adapt to the changing climate.

By investing in clean energy, promoting sustainable land use, and improving wildfire management and response capabilities, we can reduce the risks and impacts of fires on communities and ecosystems. Additionally, by taking individual and collective action to prepare for and reduce the impacts of fires, we can build resilience and protect public safety in the face of a changing climate.

The path forward will not be easy, but the stakes could not be higher. The devastating impacts of climate-induced wildfires are already being felt around the world, and the time for action is now. By working together and taking bold, decisive steps to address this threat, we can create a more sustainable, resilient future for ourselves and for generations to come.


From the NY Times

Due to human-driven climate change, catastrophic wildfires have evolved from seasonal hazards to year-round disasters that cause air pollution, scorched earth, property loss, and death.

People who never thought they’d be at risk of a wildfire are now forced to consider air quality hazards and even evacuation, oftentimes with little advance notice.

If you live in an area prone to wildfires—or somewhere that’s quickly becoming one—we’ve gathered some essential tools and advice to help keep you safe.

The last several years have seen one record-breaking conflagration after another: In 2020, fires burned more acres than in any other year. The 2017 Tubbs Fire and the 2018 Woolsey and Camp fires—all in California—were the three costliest wildfires in US history. The Camp Fire was also the deadliest, resulting in more than 80 casualties and transforming a small mountain town into what The New York Times called “a zone at the limits of the American imagination.” In the past decade, about 18,000 separate fires have burned nearly a million acres a year on average, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

This guide to wildfire preparedness builds on the expertise of its original author, former senior staff writer Eve O’Neill, who was forced to evacuate her California home in 2017 during the Tubbs Fire, which killed 22 people. At the time, it was the deadliest blaze the state had ever seen. In the aftermath, she described metal mailboxes and car parts dotting the ground in mercury-like puddles. I write about emergency preparedness for Wirecutter, and was living in the San Francisco Bay Area in the fall of 2020, when smoke from various wildfires in the region blocked the sun and turned what I consider one of the most beautiful places in the world into what looked like a different planet altogether. Meteorologists warned us to be “on alert and ready to leave at a moment’s notice, with go-bags packed.”

To identify the most helpful items to have on hand should a wildfire threaten your home, we reviewed recommendations from the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the American Red Cross, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.

We spoke with fire professionals, including Jenn Helvey, a senior wildland firefighter in Nevada; Laura Brown, the public information and safety officer for the Truckee Fire Protection District in California; Chris Bruno, fire captain at the State of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection; and Jessica Gardetto and Carrie Bilbao, public affairs specialists at the Bureau of Land Management’s National Interagency Fire Center.

This list was also informed by interviews and research we conducted for our larger guides to the best emergency-preparedness supplies and the best gear for your bug-out bag.


Fires

Climate Wildfires: The Escalating Threat and the Urgency for Preparedness

### Introduction

Wildfires have long been a natural part of many ecosystems. However, recent decades have seen an alarming increase in their frequency, intensity, and geographical spread, exacerbated by climate change. This essay examines the dire impact of climate-induced wildfires, the mechanisms through which a warming planet contributes to their severity, and the critical measures needed for preparedness and response.

### The Growing Threat of Climate Wildfires

The term "climate wildfires" refers to fires that have their frequency, intensity, or duration exacerbated by climate change. A landmark special report by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) underscores that the risk of wildfires is increasing, influenced largely by rising temperatures and prolonged drought conditions across many parts of the globe (IPCC, 2018).

For instance, the catastrophic 2019-2020 Australian bushfires, colloquially known as the “Black Summer,” burned over 18 million hectares, directly driven by unusually high temperatures and severe drought (Borchers Arriagada et al., 2020). Similarly, the California fire seasons of recent years have repeatedly set new records for destructiveness, fueled by hotter, drier conditions (Williams et al., 2019).

### Mechanisms Linking Climate Change and Wildfire Severity

#### 1. Temperature Increases

Higher temperatures expedite the evaporation of surface moisture, drying out vegetation and making it more flammable. The science is clear: for every degree Celsius the planet warths, the atmosphere can hold approximately 7% more moisture, which significantly enhances evaporation rates (Allen & Ingram, 2002).

#### 2. Changes in Precipitation Patterns

Climate change alters precipitation patterns, often leading to reduced rainfall in already dry areas. This further decreases soil and vegetation moisture, creating ideal conditions for wildfires (Abatzoglou & Williams, 2016).

#### 3. Extended Fire Seasons

The warming climate has resulted in longer fire seasons. Historically, wildfire seasons were naturally limited by climatic conditions; however, with earlier springs and later autumns, these periods are extending (Westerling, 2016).

### Predictions: How Much Worse Could It Get?

Models project that with every additional degree of global warming, the frequency of extreme fires could increase substantially. According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment, parts of the Unitedial to mobilize forces rapidly, reducing response times.

### Personal Preparedness: Knowledge and Action

Individuals must also be proactive in preparing for wildfire incidents:

- **Evacuation Plans**: Families should have a clear evacuation plan that includes multiple exit routes and predetermined meeting points.
- **Emergency Kits**: Essentials such as water, non-perishable food, medications, and important documents should be packed and ready.
- **Stay Informed**: Keeping track of fire warnings via reliable sources and adhering to local advisories can be life-saving.

### Conclusion

As the planet warms, the ferocity and frequency of wildfires are set to rise, representing a profound challenge to societies worldwide. The urgency of enhancing our preparedness for such events cannot be overstated. It is a collective responsibility of governments, communities, and individuals to adopt comprehensive strategies and actions to mitigate risks and enhance resilience against the devastating impact of climate wildfires.

### References

1. IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. (2018).
2. Borchers Arriagada, N. et al. (2020). Unprecedented smoke-related health burden associated with the 2019-20 bushfires in eastern Australia. Medical Journal of Australia.
3. Williams, A.P. et al. (2019). Observed Impacts of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Wildfire in California. Earth's Future.
4. Allen, M.R., & Ingram, W.J. (2002). Constraints on future changes in climate and the hydrologic cycle. Nature.
5. Abatzoglou, J.T., & Williams, A.P. (2016). Impact of anthropogenic climate change on wildfire across western US forests. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
6. Westerling, A.L. (2016). Increasing western US forest wildfire activity: sensitivity to changes in the timing of spring. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

Note: The URLs and direct access to these articles can typically be found through academic databases such as JSTOMultiple factors fuel climate-induced wildfires, with predictions pointing towards a significant increase in their frequency and intensity if global warming continues unmitigated. Therefore, strategies for wildfire preparedness, response, and community resilience are critical in minimizing the catastrophic impacts of these events.

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Fires
Climate Induced Fires
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