As Earth’s climate continues to change from heat-trapping gases spewed into the air, ever fewer people are out of reach from the billowing and deadly fingers of wildfire smoke, scientists say.

Already wildfires are consuming three times more of the USA and Canada each year than in the 1980’s and studies predict fire and smoke to worsen. We have to learn to live with fire and smoke, that’s the new reality.

Several scientists told the AP that the problem of smoke and wildfires will progressively worsen until the world significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which has not happened despite years of international negotiations and lofty goals.

Fires in North America are generally getting worse, burning more land. Even before July, traditionally the busiest fire month for the country.

Canada has set a record for most area burned with 31,432 square miles (81,409 square kilometers), which is nearly 15% higher than the old record.

A year like this could happen with or without climate change, but warming temperatures just made it a lot more probable, said A. Park Williams, a UCLA bio-climatologist who studies fire and water.

We’re seeing, especially across the West, big increases in smoke exposure and reduction in air quality that are attributable to increase in fire activity.

Numerous studies have linked climate change to increases in North American fires because global warming is increasing extreme weather, especially drought and mostly in the West.

As the atmosphere dries, it sucks moisture out of plants, creating more fuel that burns easier, faster and with greater intensity.

Then you add more lightning strikes from more storms, some of which are dry lightning strikes, said Canadian fire scientist Mike Flannigan at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia.

Fire seasons are getting longer, starting earlier and lasting later because of warmer weather. Wildfires in the USA on average now burn about 12,000 square miles (31,000 square kilometers) yearly, about the size of Maryland.

From 1983 to 1987, when the National Inter-agency Fire Center started keeping statistics, only about 3,300 square miles (8,546 square kilometers) burned annually.

Since about the 1950’s, America pretty much got wildfires down to a minimum, but that hasn’t been the case since about 2000.

We thought we had it under control, but we don’t. The climate changed so much that we lost control of it.

ice, glacier, arctic, iceberg, melting, tundra, freezing, arctic ocean, glacial landform, ice cap, sea ice, polar ice cap

The warmer the Arctic gets and the more snow and ice melt there — the Arctic is warming three times faster than the rest of Earth — the differences in the summer between Arctic and mid-latitudes get smaller.

That allows the jet stream of air high above the ground to meander and get stuck, prolonging bouts of bad weather. Other scientists say they are waiting for more evidence on the impact of bouts of stuck weather.

Wildfires expose about 44 million people per year worldwide to unhealthy air, causing about 677,000 deaths annually with almost 39% of them children, according to a 2021 study out of the United Kingdom.

A cascade of health effects may become a growing problem in the wake of wildfires, including downwind from the source, said Ed Avol, professor emeritus at the Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California.

Beyond irritated eyes and scratchy throats, breathing in wildfire smoke also can create long-term issues all over the body. Avol said those include respiratory effects including asthma and COPD, as well as impacts on heart, brain and kidney function.

In the longer term, climate change and unfortunately wildfire smoke is not going away because we really haven’t done that much quick enough to make a difference.

While people can take steps like masking up or using air filters to try to protect themselves, we are ultimately behind the curve here in terms of responding to it.

Associated Press / ABC Flash Point News 2023.

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01-07-23 16:27

The biggest polluter of atmospheric contamination is the —US MILITARY — that’s right 800+ bases worldwide -constant air transport to those bases – warships constantly traveling round the world.

Who says so ? why the Science Daily among others -June 20 -2019 -Lancaster / Durham University,s -full story available at science daily .com/ releases/2019 -they emit more CO2e than many countries . Thats because the media focuses on civil use not military -read it your eyes will be opened !

Forest fires are put out — anybody trying to “put out ” the US military ???

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Reply to  Donnchadh
01-07-23 17:51

The US military is destroying itself at the moment, sending all its ammo to the scrapyard in Ukraine?

Reply to  Signpost Shadow
02-07-23 05:23

The promises the US made to Ukraine in MBT,s etc have still to be fulfilled as they will need to be manufactured and with the USA exporting its manufacturing to get more profit there needs to be more factories built but now they have realised that they will need to send their reserves and they now wont do that –so a wait . While insanity reigns in the Senate it apparently doesn’t reach to all the Senate –there must be one Senator still sane and they are not prepared to disarm themselves. Remember — as long as you use the… Read more »