Global Warming and Colorado’s Great Fire

Weather is specific events, climate is the long-term pattern. Catastrophes like the forest fire in Colorado that has expelled 32,000 people from their homes are the results of weather. But long-term climate change can increase the likelihood of such events. That is, we may have a big, wet snow in Colorado some winter in the near future. But you have to average it with all the winters like the past one, relatively warm and dry, and the latter will have the edge over time if we go on with our high-carbon ways.

Over the coming decades, the American Southwest will become drier and warmer as a result of all the carbon dioxide and soot that the US, China and other industrial societies are dumping into the atmosphere.

Therefore there will be more forest fires like the one in Colorado. And, as Deborah Zabarenko writes for Reuters, the scientific evidence on this dim future is building up.

As I said, some 32,000 Coloradans have been forced from their homes so far:

Zabarenko follows up on a recent article in the journal Ecosphere, which lays out the case, and I was delighted to find is available in full text on the Web.

Professor Max A. Moritz at the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley and his colleagues find the long-term probability of increase of forest fires in the American southwest is high.

Texas and Arizona are among those states at risk — further evidence that the Red States that engage in active climate change denial are committing suicide. I suspect most Coloradans know exactly what is happening to them and why, and my heart goes out to them.

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7 Responses

  1. meanwhile our leaders don’t even make a pretense of caring or bother to show up at Rio… should we cry in despair?

  2. The situation is far worse than you have stated.

    A single extreme day can destroy (kill) an organism. Examples of organisms include people and the animals and crops they eat.

    Marginal increases in average temperature, even with substantially increased rainfall, lower soil moisture enough to reduce crop yield. Reduced crop yield is another way of saying total collapse of societal restraints as one species, humans, eat anything, literally, to stay alive.

    Someone should tell the Kochs that along with everything else that they are, they are also food if a starving mob ever got to them.

    • But the thing about the Kochs is that they just KNOW, rightly or wrongly, that they have wrapped themselves in that “vast indifference of great wealth” that assures them of peaceful deaths after long, well-cared-for, insulated lives with every comfort and indulgence that their “people” can provide for them. And those “people” include a lot of “security specialists,” no doubt trained by maybe semi-detached bits of Mossad and the CIA and various “special forces” entities.

      So these folks are our Louis XIVs, who know, and live the truth of, that nobless-oblige-free zoning, link to, to the extent that they can happily and breezily and with the serial miseries of history on their side, observe that “apres nous le deluge…” See link to for a nice discussion, in context, of the import and history of that midddle-finger-to-the-middle-class notion. And remember that Wall Street is still open 24/7, and folks there still smirk and wink and reassure each other that before any crap can even come close to hitting the fan, “IBG-YBG!” (“I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone… so who gives a rat’s arse?”)

  3. The South West and Great Basin used to have a time of year called fire season. Current trends would suggest that it will be a year round situation soon.

  4. Average temperatures….are much softer way to present the reality. We have a .5 degree warmth they say – but temperatures are running 10 -15 degrees above normal in many places, for extended period of time. Crop failures and aquifer draw downs will tip the bucket of humanity upon itself, but even more so, reports that don’t relay the importants of dramatic centralized change. Americans will do NOTHING different until they can’t buy Evian at the gas station that’s run out of gas and Frito Lays can’t make chips because flour and rice costs are too high and they have run out of water.

    Conserve oil and gas? No, no, no, pump it and use it all up, now, so we can make more money!!!

  5. What I find most galling is that they will have their hands out to the richer Blue states to compensate them for their losses. A la Oklahoma in the 1930’s.

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