Fire Scientists Are Sure This Will All Get Worse

As of July 31, more than 25,000 firefighters are committed to 140 wildfires across the country.

An inmate firefighter monitors flames as a house burns in the Napa wine region in California on October 9, 2017, as multiple wind-driven fires continue to whip through the region. / AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

It is hard to know how bad the future is going to be in terms of climate change and global warming, but fire scientists are sure of one thing: it is only going to get worse. As of July 31, more than 25,000 firefighters are committed to 140 wildfires across America, reports Wired, and there are over a million acres aflame. Eight people were killed in California, while tens of thousands were evacuated.

Though scientists are uncertain of how much worse, where and for whom, they do know that it will be bad.

“We can no longer use the observed past as a guide. There’s no stable system that generates a measurable probability of events to use the past record to plan for the future,” says LeRoy Westerling, a management professor who studies wildfires at UC Merced, according to Wired. “Now we have to use physics and complex interactions to project how things could change.”

Wildfires were already part of a complex system, but climate change — including carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases raising the overall temperature of the planet — made things even more complex. We will be seeing the implications of that for the next millennia.

“On top of that is interaction between the climate system, the ecosystem, and how we manage our land use,” Westerling said to Wired. “That intersection is very complex, and even more difficult to predict. When I say there’s no new normal, I mean it. The climate will be changing with probably an accelerating pace for the rest of the lives of everyone who is alive today.”

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