Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Scientists show direct link between polluting companies and wildfires in North America » Yale Climate Connections

In recent decades, wildfires have scorched forests in the western U.S. and Canada. By contributing to climate change, the world’s biggest carbon polluters made those fires far more destructive — and new research shows by just how much.

Pablo Ortiz-Partida of the Union of Concerned Scientists says carbon pollution is making the region hotter and drier, which creates more fuel for fires.

Ortiz-Partida: “It’s these hot and dry conditions that enable wildfires to burn more forest area.”

His team found that nearly 40% of the area burned by forest fires in western North America over a 25-year period can be attributed to the amount of carbon pollution produced by 88 major fossil fuel producers and cement makers.

Ortiz-Partida: “So that amounts to nearly 20 million acres of area, which is roughly an area the size of the state of Maine.”

He says these wildfires are costly.

Ortiz-Partida: “Until now, the general public has been paying that bill with tax money. And this is not right, because while the fossil fuel companies haven’t been the ones lighting the match, they have certainly increased the fuel.”

So he hopes the study can be used to help hold these companies legally responsible.

Reporting Credit: ChavoBart Digital Media

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