Global Burning?

Another fine piece from the Ottawa Citizen by Graham Thompson examines the connection between enormous wildfires and climate change.

A disaster is waiting to happen because we love to build our homes straddling the forest and because over the years we have been so good at suppressing wildfires that those forests have been accumulating an arsenal of dead-wood fuel just waiting to explode — and because of human-induced climate change that is bringing warmer, drier and windier weather. If the boreal forest is the kindling, climate change is the oxygen. All you need is something or someone to supply a spark. And we can always count on Mother Nature, careless campers or arsonists to oblige.

The warnings of future disaster come from scientists and fly in the face of reassurances given by politicians. After the Slave Lake fire, Mel Knight, then minister of sustainable resource development, insisted that the ferocious nature of the conflagration was a “one-off” disaster unrelated to climate change and wilder weather.

Politically, Knight’s comments were meant to calm fears; scientifically, he didn’t know what he was talking about.


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