The boiling heat, lack of precipitation, and exceptionally high winds that have torn through the western part of the United States are a good indication of what climate change has in store, according to a group of scientists.
“What we’re seeing is a window into what global warming really looks like,” said Michael Oppenheimer, lead author of the UN’s climate science panel. “It looks like heat, it looks like fires, it looks like this kind of environmental disaster… this provides vivid images of what we can expect to see more of in the future.”
As a result of the Colorado wildfires, thousands of households have been displaced, hundreds of homes destroyed, and lives have been lost. The high temperatures have contributed significantly. This is consistent with predictions by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has said extreme heat with little cooling during the night will be a consequence of the damaging impact of global warming. Floods, droughts, and more severe storms are other consequences.
Mountain snow in these areas melted about two weeks earlier than normal this year, setting the scene for a long, dry summer. This situation has been brutal when combined with extreme heat and wind.
Severe wildfires can cost over $1 billion a year and create a serious burden on human health, with increased lung, heart, and kidney ailments.
“Wildfire smoke is like intense air pollution,” said Howard Frumkin, a public health expert at University of Washington. “Pollution levels can reach many times higher than a bad day in Mexico City or Beijing.”
Very young children, the elderly, and the ill are most susceptible to health issues caused by wildfires. Depression, anxiety, and PTSD can all be triggered by being closely associated with the effects of a wildfire.
This is pretty jarring to think of in relation to the future of the planet if we don’t start making serious changes to avoid the worst of climate change.
via NY Times
U.S. Air Force Photo by: Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock
Mount Saint Francois area of Colorado Springs, Colorado