Right now there are large wildfires burning across the southwest United States. A few are under control and others are threatening to rage out of control. Thousands of evacuations have already taken place at many of these sites and more are likely to follow as some of these fires continue to grow. Have a look at this US Forestry Service fire risk map and you'll see that a huge chunk of the western states are in a high to extreme risk zone right now.
I guess I shouldn't find it unusual that the major media outlets are barely giving it coverage. After all, the world is on fire right now as well. But I found it strange that I had to do a Google News search in order to find some good coverage of it, and mostly the local level at that. There is next to nothing on the major news carrier headlines though. Just some chaff you find halfway down the page.
It seems to me that there has been an unusually high number of wildfires this year and judging by the threat map above, it's only like to get worse. So I dug a little deeper to find out what the scientific consensus seems to be about why they are getting worse. There are the obvious short term reasons of course, i.e. less rains leading to dry arid summers, more dry lightning storms setting them off and stronger more eratic dry winds spreading them faster and farther. After a little digging I found this interesting piece at NASA Earth Observatory's site. Turns out there's a lot to the story... (emphasis added)
July 6, 2006
WARMING CLIMATE PLAYS LARGE ROLE IN WESTERN U.S. WILDFIRES, SCRIPPS-LED STUDY SHOWS
A new study led by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, implicates rising seasonal temperatures and the earlier arrival of spring conditions in connection with a dramatic increase of large wildfires in the western United States.
In the most systematic analysis to date of recent changes in forest fire activity, Anthony Westerling, Hugo Hidalgo and Dan Cayan of Scripps Oceanography, along with Tom Swetnam of the University of Arizona, compiled a database of recent large western wildfires since 1970 and compared it with climate and land-surface data from the region. The results show that large wildfire activity increased "suddenly and dramatically" in the 1980s with longer wildfire seasons and an increased number and more potent wildfires.
The new findings, published in the July 6 issue of Science Express (the advance online version of the printed journal Science), point to climate change, not fire suppression policies and forest accumulation, as the primary driver of recent increases in large forest fires... read all
I suppose it shouldn't surprise me that the "Main Stream Media" isn't giving this much coverage. We can't be letting the sheeple see how more scientific data shows that global warming is causing real problems, right now. No... That would just lend more credibility to Al Gore's assertions that we people need to wake up and start taking action. Can't be having any of that now can we? But as with all things concerning the corporate (whore) media, there is more to the story.
It turns out that fighting out-of-control raging infernos accross our great land is highly dangerous and actually very hard work - often done by tough and courageous souls, eager to protect their land. Or as it frequently turns out, their adopted land. Apparently thousands of these intrepid heroes who march up hillsides and straight into the raging infernos of hell, are in fact illegal immigrants from Mexico. So if the bigots and xenaphobes in our ranks have their way, as many as half of our nations wildfire fighting crews would be booted out of the country or thrown in prison for being brown and uninvited. But no worries, I'm sure it won't be too difficult to find willing and able-bodied heroes to fill their shoes eh?
These are real fires that effect thousands of American lives. They destroy homes and wipe out vast swaths of our nations' countryside. But apparently the whole "immigration issue" is just too hot to ignore for this coming November. Much better to let thousands of people's homes burn to the ground and criminally bury our collective heads in the sand in terms of planning ahead to a time in the not-so-distant future when the scale of destruction exponentially increases due to blatantly obvious changes in our planet's climate. After all, the only thing better than making America afraid during an election season is making them afraid of dumb stuff. At least they got to demagogue some kind of burning after all.
UPDATE: I found this article over at ThinkProgress.org. Apparently the first half of 2006 were the highest global temperatures in history.
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