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Mailbag: We can limit wildfire increase

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Scientists know that global warming makes wildfires in our region worse.

Climate change leads to dry places getting drier because higher temperatures lead to drier air (lower relative humidity), more evaporation, less soil moisture and drier fuel.

Climate change also makes our summers longer. Longer and drier summers and drier fuel increase the number of wildfires and their extent. In California, human-caused climate change has already increased the burnt area fivefold since 1972. So far, we’ve had about 2 degrees Fahrenheit global warming. Fire conditions will get worse with further warming; both frequency and area burned will likely increase.

However, we can limit the increase by limiting global warming and by reducing the burning of fossil fuels as soon as possible. If not, and global warming continues unchecked, conditions similar to the last few days will become much more normal for our children and grandchildren.

Andreas Schmittner



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