Of course September/October in California are the most feared fire months — at the end of the long, hot dry summer but as today’s fire in Santa Barbara, and fires in Arizona, Texas and Florida remind us the fire season is nearly year round.
Year to date comparisons have 2009 in second place to 2006 for the last 9 years for numbers of wild fires, at 32, 351 and in third place for numbers of acres burned: 1,085, 007.
Center for American Progress picks up on a paper published in Science, April 24 saying that fires and the CO2 they emit are grossly under appreciated as contributors to climate change — and a product of it also.
“It’s very clear that fire is a primary catalyst of global climate change,” co-author Thomas W. Swetnam told ScienceDaily. “Fires are obviously one of the major responses to climate change, but fires are not only a response—they feed back to warming, which feeds more fires… The scary bit is that, because of the feedbacks and other uncertainties, we could be way underestimating the role of fire in driving future climate change.”
And it’s not just wild fires. Deliberately set fires to clear forests for planting are an enormous problem from Borneo to Brazil.