June 12 News: As Western Wildfires Rage, Scientists Warn Of ‘Increasing Fire Activity Across Large Areas Of The Planet’

A round-up of the top climate and energy news. Please post additional links below.

Climate change will make U.S. western wildfires, like those now raging in parts of Colorado and New Mexico, more frequent over the next 30 years, researchers reported on Tuesday. [ReutersU.C. Berkeley news release]

Climate change is widely expected to disrupt future fire patterns around the world, with some regions, such as the western United States, seeing more frequent fires within the next 30 years, according to a new analysis led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, in collaboration with an international team of scientists.

By the end of the century, almost all of North America and most of Europe is projected to see a jump in the frequency of wildfires, primarily because of increasing temperature trends. At the same time, fire activity could actually decrease around equatorial regions, particularly among the tropical rainforests, because of increased rainfall.

The study, published today (Tuesday, June 12) in Ecosphere, an open-access, peer-reviewed journal of the Ecological Society of America, used 16 different climate change models to generate what the researchers said is one of the most comprehensive projections to date of how climate change might affect global fire patterns.

“In the long run, we found what most fear — increasing fire activity across large parts of the planet,” said study lead author Max Moritz, fire specialist in UC Cooperative Extension. “But the speed and extent to which some of these changes may happen is surprising.”

Bank of America Corp , which has faced criticism for dealings with coal companies in recent years, on Monday set a new 10-year, $50 billion goal to provide loans and other financing for environmentally friendly energy projects. [Reuters]

A fast-growing wildfire raged through dry forests and hillside subdivisions in northern Colorado on Monday, charring homes and forcing hundreds of families to evacuate in the latest out-of-control blaze to scorch the parched West. [New York Times]

The U.S. still lagged behind other nations in 2011 in the share of energy it gets from renewable sources, in spite of a more than 300% increase in funding for green power projects over the last decade. [Los Angeles Times]

Mitt Romney’s criticism of President Barack Obama for promoting green-energy subsidies may keep the former Massachusetts governor from boasting about his own contribution to his state’s expanding clean-energy industry. [Businessweek]

A report from a new institute at the State University at Buffalo asserting that state oversight has made natural gas drilling safer is causing tumult on campus and beyond, with critics arguing that the institute is biased toward industry and could undercut the university’s reputation. [New York Times]

Huge amounts of carbon trapped in the soils of U.S. forests will be released into the air as the planet heats up, contributing to a “vicious cycle” that could accelerate climate change, a new study concluded. [Washington Post]


7 Responses to June 12 News: As Western Wildfires Rage, Scientists Warn Of ‘Increasing Fire Activity Across Large Areas Of The Planet’

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Older, diverse forests resist fire much better, and have cooler and wetter microclimates. Part of our fire problem is caused by industrial logging, which is deforestation by another name. Monoculture tree farms burn hot, baking the soil and releasing further carbon emissions.

    Diverse forests in the West are adapted to fire, and require it for forest health- provided there are big snags, and that the forest regenerates naturally. Forests floors contain countless dormant seeds, which create new forests as conditions call for. Burned tree farms are replaced by saplings, which may or may not be well adapted to future conditions.

    Our landscape is riddled by clearcuts because we encourage them through tax policy, and do not listen to foresters who understand natural forest cycles. The timber industry and the homebuilders have successfully lobbied to turn most of our forests into fiber farms. This has to change.

  2. easy prediction:

    Increased fires in dry forests provide incentive to rapidly clear-cut more forests.

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Was it not once held that, at the time the arrival of the European colonial genocidaires, a squirrel could travel from the Atlantic to the Mississippi without touching the ground, leaping from tree to tree. Let’s face it-Homo destructans ssp “Western Man’ is psychologically driven to destroy, not to nurture or husband the natural world. When the greedheads see a tree they see money.

  4. A.J. says:

    NPR’s Living on Earth had a pretty good interview with Katharine Hayhoe on this:

    The only iffy part:

    “HAYHOE: (Laughs.) No, I don’t think this is going to be the end of the world as we know it.”

    No, it’s just may be part of the process of ending the (holocene) world as we know it. We need to think more about how profound changes like this affect the big picture. Regional increases in precipitation may ameliorate some of the increase in wildfire, but more fire in the carbon-rich regions is just one more cog in a system of amplifying feedbacks.