Climate change and wildfires : a clear causality?
We are all familiar with the terrifying images of fires traveling at the speed of a galloping horse and devouring everything crossing their path.
I personally think fire is terrifying when out of control. Losing a home or even loved ones to fires is an absolutely traumatizing experience.
The 2018 wildfire season in California and the 2019-2020 bushfires in Australia have made the headlines due to their intensity and historic damage.
The link between this apparent wildfire multiplication and climate change thus seems pretty straightforward and many jumped to the conclusion of a direct causality.
Yet, the relationship between the multiplication of wildfires and climate change may surprise you.
Strong winds and high temperatures are the Molotov cocktail of wildfires.
Places like Australia are particularly prone to this climate in the dry season. Australia has experienced big wildfires for the last 60,000 years because of this specific configuration.
You can’t blame climate change when you’ve restricted access to millions of hectares of densely thickened eucalyptus forests and wonder why they go up in smoke.
You can’t blame climate change when you haven’t back burned this millennium.
You can’t blame climate change when there are no fire breaks or cool buffer zones installed around towns, houses and critical infrastructure.
Thus governmental decisions, pushed by a variety of green lobbies, have classified more and more land as “national parks” or “protected area”. Some of these areas are crucial to the feeding of wildfires. Protecting so much land prevents to create the necessary buffer zones to stop the spread of fire.
In other words, by not burning strategic areas of land, it is actually entire regions and its diversity burning.
A fire can’t burn if there is nothing or little to burn.
Finally, Tom Marland makes an interesting and maybe counter intuitive argument for some :
“For decades government policy has been focused on kicking people out of the environment. From foresters to graziers to beekeepers – there has been increasing restriction on access to our national estate. This takes people out of the environment who are best equipped to manage it and are willing to invest their own time, resources and lives to protect it.
Stop blaming climate change. Even if the climate is changing, does that mean we should just throw our hands in the air and let our national estate and biodiversity go up smoke every year? Sitting around blaming the weather for all of our problems is juvenile and futile.”