Sunday night, just before the fires in Southern California really started raging, 60 Minutes reported on the new age of "mega-fires"—infernos ten times larger than what we've seen before. The last fire season was the worst in recorded history—seven of the ten worst have occurred since 1999—and given the current devastation, this one can't be too far behind.
60 Minutes talked to University of Arizona fire ecologist Thomas Swetnam, who recently published a paper in Science linking global warming to an increase in the number of fires. The fire seasons are longer, he says, and the blazes themselves are reaching higher into the mountains.
In a joint testimony delivered to Congress just a month ago with Anthony Westerling of the University of California, Merced, Swetnam also warns that forecast models predict increased burning in the event of increased greenhouse gas concentrations. You can watch segments from the 60 Minutes program here, and for more frightening details of Swetnam's testimony, go here.—Gregory Mone
I'm sure global warming has some impact on the fires. If the temps are rising, then likely things are getting drier in certain areas. We know the desert is expanding in Africa so we can probably assumed other places are changing as well. Regardless of the reason we have to recognize that fires are not a bad thing. Fires that kill people are a bad thing. Stopping fires from raging every once in a while is not really doing any good. We try so hard to maintain the environment in order to protect our interests, but there is no way we can do it better than mother nature has for millions of years.
Why do people build in areas where fires are so dangerous and common? Why do we live on volcanoes and in flood planes? Why do we build cities in giant bowls next to the ocean? The answer is pretty obvious, but we don't like it. Stupidity.
We got ourselves into the situation by overwhelming the environment and altering the way things function. We have to expect that every once in a while the environment will be squeezed too tight and push back. Sure it is a tragedy when people lose their lives, but if you think it's unexpected you need to consider science classes.
I wish the best to those who have to rebuild their houses and their lives after the fires, but I still stand dumbfounded in our inability to accept that we are part of this world and, thus, susceptible to her tantrums.
I agree with everything that Flick_Montan says. We build our homes in and on the most dangerous places their is. And then blame mother nature for those who get hurt. It's a shame when people get hurt, but it's not natures falt. And global warming has a place in this, the warmer it gets the drier it gets, and the easier a fire can get started. We keep trying to fight mother nature insted of living with it. If we were more concerned about mother nature all earth would be better! The best way to help ourselves is to help the world we live in.