Europe Has Descended Into the Age of Fire

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Forest fires are becoming increasingly difficult to manage, he says, because land is not actively controlled with the thinning of vegetation and deliberate burns. “The problem is that we as a society only have it he reacted to a problem, to increase the capacity of extinguishing fires ”, says Castellnou. “We haven’t created ecosystem management.”

Demographic change and migration to the city are taking place alongside climate change. A Mediterranean climate, both in the region around the Mediterranean Sea and in similar places as California, is already prone to forest fires. Rainy winters and springs favor the growth of plants, which in the dry summer dry up and become fuel. Climate change has made these conditions drier and hotter for longer. “It’s a performance enhancer,” Pyne says. “We are seeing climate change increase these conditions.”

“What’s really interesting, though,” Pyne adds, “is seeing the fire start moving toward Central Europe.” This is a more temperate region and has historically not had the regimented wet-dry cycle of the Mediterranean. But now that it is suffering from increasingly extreme heat waves, forest fires can feed on changing conditions. every hour during these heat events, even if the region has not yet been caught in a drought for years, as California has.

If a dry, hot wind blows, it can quickly suck moisture from grasses, branches and shrubs, making things really flammable. Large trees can retain their moisture and resist burning, but the rest of the vegetation is on fire. “It is not necessary to dry up the landscape to the point where it is all tinder, “says Pyne.” All you have to do is have enough to transport the fuels up, and so you can have very fast, hot fires as a result. ”

As a result, Europe’s “fire regime,” as scientists call it, is being transformed: the hotter it gets, the more the behavior of fire changes. As the dryness of the vegetation increases, so does the amount of energy it releases when it burns. “So the power of the fire increases dramatically with the lack of water, and those fires will spread more quickly,” says Guillermo Rein, who studies fire at Imperial College London. “Some of these fires are really impossible to stop.”

Fire scientists say the best way to mitigate risk is by thinning out excess vegetation and doing more controlled burns. But Rein points out that this can be difficult to sell to the public. “I’m from Spain, I grew up and grew up in a world where absolutely all fires are bad,” he says. Some people oppose smoking, which can worsen respiratory conditions such as asthma. But the alternative is increasingly massive, out-of-control fires that make even more smoke, drowning communities for days and days. And firefighters are very careful to do controlled burns on days when conditions don’t send smoke to people.

Arguing against fewer flames may seem counterintuitive. But the solution are more controlled and beneficial lighters, literally fighting fire with fire. “Unfortunately, the real limiting step is not having enough people to make the prescribed cream,” Rein says. “There are not enough people supporting it concept of prescribed cream ”.

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