Climate Change Creates Canadian Tinderbox

In May 2011, a wildfire, fueled by dry forests and 60 mile per hour winds, tore through the fire defenses of Slave Lake, a town like many others nestled in the boreal forest covering much of Canada. The fire caused over a billion dollars of damage, making it one of the costliest Canadian disasters ever.  Months later, the town suffered flooding.  There is an ever-increasing chance it will happen again, reports Graham Thomson at Postmedia News. Three ingredients create this disaster formula:  forest fire suppression, which has caused a buildup of dead-wood fuel, more people are building near the forests, and climate change is creating longer seasons of warmer, drier, and windier weather. “It’s difficult to say that an individual fire is the result of climate change but we are seeing more activity because of climate change,” says Michael Flannigan of the University of Alberta. Scientists say as the climate warms we’ll experience more extreme weather events, leading to droughts, forest fires and floods. “This is only going to continue,” says Flannigan. “I would argue that it’s one of the first early signs that climate change is happening.”

The fire next time: Slave Lake disaster a harbinger. On the one year anniversary of Canada’s Slave Lake fire, here is a troubling thought: Wildfires are increasingly moving with a speed and intensity that catch firefighters off guard and prove impossible to contain. Like climate change itself, this is a global problem. Postmedia News


About melharte

Mel (Mary Ellen) Harte is a biologist (PhD) and climate change educator. She co-authored the free online book, COOL THE EARTH, SAVE THE ECONOMY, available at www.CoolTheEarth.US, and writes the CLIMATE CHANGE THIS WEEK column at the HuffingtonPost. Living summers in the alpine Rockies, she is on the frontlines of watching what climate change can do. Her diagnostic digital photographs of wildflowers have appeared in numerous publications.
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