Aerial footage bares wildfire damage in US and Europe – officials warn climate crisis will only make matters worse


Top line

As firefighters struggle to contain the devastating fires ravaging parts of Europe and North America, officials have blamed the extreme events on climate change while experts warn the worst is yet to come as human-induced climate change amplifies feeding risks in hot, dry weather. flames.


California’s wildfire season is already ahead of last year’s worst record season – including the Dixie fire, the state’s largest this year – and authorities are begging thousands of residents under evacuation orders to “forget the politics” and leave rather than take their chances and stay.

Oregon firefighters have been battling the nation’s largest wildfire, Bootleg, for a month, and Democratic Governor Kate Brown has warned that “the harsh reality is that we’re going to see more of these wildfires” at the future due to climate change.

Hawaii firefighters are facing the biggest Big Island wildfire in recorded history, with authorities warning more fires will occur in dry and windy conditions.

Heat waves are causing violent fires in Greece, endangering ancient monuments in Olympia, the former birthplace of the Olympics, which Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has attributed to climate change.

The heatwave sparked some of the region’s worst forest fires in decades, according to to the European Union’s Commissioner for the Environment, Virginijus Sinkevicius, with Turkey, Italy and Spain also struggling with fires.

The Canadian province of British Columbia declared a state of emergency in July due to hundreds of forest fires spreading through the region, prompting Minnesota to issue air quality alerts as winds carried smoke from the fires to the state.

Crucial quote

Governor Brown said heat waves, ice storms and wildfires in Oregon are “a sign of changing climate impacts.” The fires are “hotter, they are fiercer and obviously much more difficult to fight,” she said. “So climate change is here, it’s real and it’s like a hammer hitting us in the head. And we must act. “

Key context

Although forest fires are a natural and important part of some environments, the scale and severity of the forest fires that are currently burning are extreme. Many areas, including parts of the United States, have experienced record wildfire seasons in recent years and experts believe it will only get worse. Overall, experts believe human-induced climate change is to blame, increasing the likelihood of dry, hot conditions favorable to forest fires. The United States has already faced severe heat waves this year, including the brutal heat dome that killed more than 100 people in Oregon, 30 in Washington and nearly 500 in the province of British Columbia. in Canada. Scientists believe such extreme conditions would have been “virtually impossible” without climate change. Parts of Europe are also experiencing extreme heat – near record high in some areas – causing forest fires. Climate change is not just leading to extreme temperatures. This summer, extreme weather conditions caused extensive flooding in Europe and China. The winter storm that left large areas of Texas without power in early 2021 may be linked to the warming of the Arctic.

Large number

3,361,159. That’s the number of acres in the United States that have burned in wildfires this year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. These are 38,707 reported fires. Montana (24), Idaho (20), Oregon (1) and California (11) are the states with the most active large fires.

Further reading

Climate change is at the heart of California wildfires (Scientific American)

Climate change has driven extreme western heat wave records, analysis says (NYT)

Western America faces wildfires and water shortages as climate change amplifies drought (Forbes)

Drought in the western United States is worsening. Climate change is making it worse (NPR)

Major Atlantic current could be on the verge of collapse, scientists warn (Forbes)


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