Climate Change Causing More Fires
Now Fort McMurray residents have begun the difficult journey home weeks after that terrifying day in May when an unprecedented inferno, fueled by unusually hot and dry spring weather, caused them to flee and led to the largest evacuation in Alberta’s history.
Those unusual weather conditions have been widely attributed to El Nino, a naturally-occurring phenomenon linked to warm ocean water that disrupts the weather.
But Flannigan, a professor of wildland fire from the University of Alberta, and many other climate change scientists agree that while the Fort McMurray fires cannot be directly linked to the carbon pollution produced by humans, Canadian wildfire activity of the past few years is well above average. And it’s connected to the warming climate.
In terms of the total areas destroyed by fires, there’s an unmistakable escalation, they say.They see these fires as vivid markers of dangers to come for the forests and for the people and wildlife that live in them and around them.
As temperatures warm, they say, the likelihood is greater that more out of control infernos will consume more trees and human infrastructure.