More indications of global warming… this year is shaping up to be the worst wildfire season in the United States in over 45 years! Check out this article about how more large wildfires are linked to climate change. The warming climate is causing forests to change generating abundant fuel for fires. Some of this fuel is created by a burgeoning pest problem in the northwest, also a manifestation of global warming. The bark-pine beetle used to be confined to interior forests of British Columbia, but the increasingly warm winters there have allowed the pest to spread out of its range and infect forests across the inland Northwest. The moisture-starved forests are easy pickings for the beetles and many trees are killed – hence more fuel for fires.
With warmer summers and a lack of precipitation during the summer, wildfires are easily triggered. The result: 8.69 million acres burned this year alone. Fires are a natural and important aspect of the forest ecosystem, but the increasingly dry and warm climate in the west is producing unprecedented wildfires that burnt out of control for much of this summer. These types of fires would not be naturally produced but for the global warming. These catastrophic fires are changing landscapes. Instead of forests, many of these lands will be replaced by grasslands that are more accustomed to hot and dry. Meanwhile, the pine beetle epidemic continues to grow to perhaps a pandemic as the pest crosses the continental divide and sets its sights on forests all the way to the eastern seaboard.