Advanced Search
Current and Breaking News for Professionals, Consumers and Media



Click here to learn how to advertise on this site and for ad rates.

News : National Author: EarthTalk Last Updated: Jul 18, 2014 - 6:41:53 PM



Preventing Wildfires

By EarthTalk
Jul 18, 2014 - 6:30:25 PM



Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Ezine
For Email Marketing you can trust


Email this article
 Printer friendly page

(HealthNewsDigest.com) - There's no question that wildfires are on the increase across the American West and other fire-prone regions of the world, and most environmental leaders agree that global warming is largely to blame. In a recent study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers from the University of Utah analyzed a database of large wildfires in the western U.S. between 1984 and 2011 and found a significant increase in the number of large fires and/or the area covered by the blazes. From Nebraska to California, the number of large wildfires increased sevenfold per year over the study period, with the total area burned increasing by 90,000 acres a year on average.

"Wildfire trends in the West are clear: There are more large fires burning now than at any time in the past 40 years and the total area burned each year has also increased," says Alyson Kenward of the nonprofit Climate Central. "Over the same span, average spring and summer temperatures across 11 Western states have increased by more than 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit, contributing to the higher fire risks." What worries Kenward and others is that the latest climate model projections show temperatures rising an additional two to four degrees Fahrenheit over the next few decades (and as much as eight degrees by 2100).

According to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), the hotter temperatures we are already experiencing increase fire risks for several reasons. For one, drier, hotter conditions increase evaporation rates and encourage desertification. Also, as snowpacks melt earlier and summer temperatures rise to new heights, the length of the "fire season" is extending. Meanwhile, warming-induced insect infestations and other problems are ravaging many forests, turning once teeming ecosystems into tinderboxes. And the increased frequency of lightning as thunder storms become more severe only exacerbates the situation.

Not everyone agrees that global warming is causing the increase in wildfires. Professor David B. South of Auburn University points the finger at forest management and fire suppression practices over the last century that have allowed "fuels" to build up on forest floors, making the fires that do get started that much harder to quell or contain. "Policymakers who halt active forest management and kill ‘green' harvesting jobs in favor of a ‘hands-off' approach contribute to the buildup of fuels in the forest," South told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in May 2014. "This eventually increases the risk of catastrophic wildfires," he said, adding that blaming carbon dioxide emissions for increased fire risk would be "simply unscientific."

Regardless of who is right, we can all help reduce or prevent wildfires. According to Smokey Bear, the federal government's mascot for wildfire prevention since the 1940s, those of us living in or visiting fire-prone areas should take extra precautions when burning anything outdoors. The campfire safety page of Smokey Bear's website outlines how to build and extinguish campfires properly to minimize wildfire risks, and provides lots of other relevant tips on how to stay vigilant. You can also help reduce the risk of wildfire by reducing your carbon footprint (drive and fly less, plant trees) and speaking up for legislation and other actions that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

CONTACTS: NWF, www.nwf.org; Climate Central, www.climatecentral.org; Smokey Bear, www.smokeybear.com.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: [email protected]

###

For ad rates, call Mike McCurdy at 877-634-9180 or email at [email protected]  We have over 7,000 journalists who are subscribers.



Top of Page

HealthNewsDigest.com

National
Latest Headlines


+ The Two Things That Rarely Happen After a Medical Mistake
+ Herbs and Spices Enhance Heart Health as Well as Flavor
+ New Online-Only Contraception Option
+ 6 Ways to Find Gratitude During the Holidays on Your Infertility Journey
+ RxMatch Launches Healthcare Management Platform For Personal Recovery and Sustainable Wellness
+ Gifted Men and Women Define Success Differently, 40-Year Study Shows
+ Why Buying Refurbished Equipment Makes Sense
+ Discarded Cigarette Ashes Could Go to Good Use — Removing Arsenic from Water
+ Losartan Shown to be Effective in the Treatment of Marfan Syndrome
+ American Humane Association Calls on Nation to Set a Humane Table During the Holidays



Contact Us | Job Listings | Help | Site Map | About Us
Advertising Information | HND Press Release | Submit Information | Disclaimer

Site hosted by Sanchez Productions