Thursday, July 1, 2021

Wildfires: Let's Not Confuse Weather and Climate

Washington Post 7/1/21
The heat wave was terrible. The fires horrific (see photo below).
Lytton, BC's, main street before and after yesterday's fire. 
There is no question that world temperatures are warmer than they were 50 years ago. 

But, as we discussed Tuesday, four days of heat -- no matter how extreme -- is weather, not climate. And, there are dangerous wildfires in the State of Washington in wet years as well as dry. For example, a friend sent this video of a Washington wildfire in 2017.
Below is a graph (red line) of official U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics of acres burned in by wildfires in the United States.
The blue line is carbon dioxide concentration. As you can see, there is no relation. 

The problem with wildfires in the West is they can be at their worst after a wet year or a dry year -- there is often little direct correlation. Plus, the intensity of wildfires can be related to forestry practices -- no temperature or dryness. 

While it is certainly possible, or even likely, that the extreme heat in the northwest was related to the warmer temperatures of today, by themselves they prove nothing. We will always have periods of extreme weather. 

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