United Nations project climate change increases the risk of catastrophic wildfires

A new report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) predicts that climate change will increase the global potential of catastrophic wildfires, defined as once-in-a-century wildfires, from 1.31 to 1.57 times. I am.

“The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that wildfire-promoting weather (‘fire weather’-hot, dry and windy) are more frequent in some areas. It will continue to increase as the levels of global warming increase. “The report said, IPCC AR6 Report..

“Countries need to meet and exceed their commitments under the Paris Agreement to reduce global warming and its prevalence. [behavior] Of wildfires worldwide. This will reduce the social, economic and ecological impact of wildfires. “

Lead author ReportJohn Sullivan of the Australian Federal Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research told reporters that the estimated increase was global and could not be used to estimate regional vulnerabilities.

“Even in the lowest emissions scenario, the frequency of wildfires can increase significantly,” he said.

A list of report recommendations is available to readers.[recognize] Responding to the impact of climate change on prevalence, [behavior] Of a forest fire. “

Recommendations also include a survey of “gender aspects of wildfires”. In addition, the report calls on the government to consider increasing budgets for fire preparedness, recovery, response, prevention, and planning.

Epoch Times Photo
A photo of this handout, taken on the night of January 21st or 22nd, 2022, shows a wildfire burning at Rocky Point in Monterey County, California. (Distribution via DebiLorench / Reuters)

Reporter co-author and researcher at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Peter Moore, said that less funding for recovery means “we are not recovering better.” Told to.

UNEP’s report highlights the risk of anthropogenic climate change from very large fires, but some data show that the link between human activity and wildfires is other than greenhouse gas emissions. It suggests that it is largely determined by things.

for example, Journal Science Found The total burned area of ​​the world decreased by about 25 percent between 1999 and 2015.

“Researchers attribute this decline to human activity, especially the expansion and strengthening of agriculture. Even if climate changes have affected wildfires around the world in recent decades, they have nothing to do with climate. It was dominated by human factors without it, “physicist Steve Kunin said in a discussion of this. I found it in his 2021 book “Unsettled”.

Kunin discusses the causes of recent large-scale fires on the west coast of the United States and writes that forest management and anthropogenic fires may “play an important, if not dominant,” role in climate. rice field.

In line with scientific papers, 2016 articles According to Stefan Doerr and Cristina Santin, contrary to what some believe, fires are not as widespread as they were in the past. Scales are not well supported by the reality of the available data. “

Doerr, a professor of geography at Swansea University and the lead author of his 2016 paper, told the Epoch Times that the total area burned by the fire is still declining, primarily due to the reduction in grassland fires. However, he provided a warning. It is particularly influential, sometimes catastrophic (such as some forests), and has an increasing number of fires. These are things we need to worry about in terms of human, climate, and ecosystem impacts. “

He described the main findings of the UNEP report, especially those on catastrophic wildfires, as “robust.”

Epoch Times Photo
The American flag is hung on a burnt truck in a neighborhood destroyed by a Marshall fire in Louisville, Colorado, on January 2, 2022. (Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images)

Qoonin’s focus on land management is not very consistent with comments from Sullivan, the lead author of the UNEP report. Asked about the strength of the link between climate change and fires, Sullivan said that the three factors most influencing the spread of fires are weather, fuel and terrain.

“The terrain you can’t do. The weather is generally that you can’t do anything. As mentioned in climate change, the frequency of bad weather is getting worse. What you do. One aspect of that triangle that can be done is to manage fuel, “he said.

Ross McKitrick, a professor of economics at the University of Guelph, instructed the Epoch Times to “fulfill and exceed promises under the Paris Agreement” in the policy-oriented paragraph of the climate report. He said he would come across it as unpleasant in the context. Of this kind of scientific UN report.

“When they make recommendations, policies that have a significant immediate impact on wildfire incidence and severity include forest management, the disposal of agricultural slashes, and wildfire control,” he said.

Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington, blog The poor quality of evidence linking fires along the California coastline to global warming.

He told the Epoch Times that all scientists have seen wildfire-burned areas in the last few decades, both globally and in the United States, despite a temporary rise in the United States over the last decade. He said he admitted that it had declined significantly over the centuries.

“For the last 100 years, human influence is far more important than climate,” he said. “The fact that it’s back now is, in fact, the result of catastrophically burning, poorly managed forests, where many humans have moved to forest areas, leading to human ignition.”

Mass noted that the type of climate model used in UNEP’s report would almost inevitably predict an increase in fire. Inserting an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere makes the model predict global warming. The model incorporates assumptions about the drying effects of global warming, which allows us to predict more or worse fires.

“They don’t really consider what’s happening on earth,” he said. Over the past century, fire extinguishing “created these crazy forests that are completely unnatural,” he said.

“By blaming the fire for global warming, it allowed certain politicians not to deal with the problem,” he added.

Nathan Worcester


Nathan Worcester is an environmental reporter for The Epoch Times.

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