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Climate Change and International Cooperation Make Wildfire a Global Issue

posted Jan 29, 2016, 1:33 PM by Joe Christy

As the wildfire season in Bonny Doon wound down last November, I was shocked and saddened to read about the fiercely tragic beginning of bushfire season inAustralia, a month earlier than it has historically begun. Sound familiar?

Reading an Australian report, The Burning Issue: Climate Change and theAustralian Bushfire Threat, I learned that wildfire seasons have increased by almost 19% globally from 1978 to 2013. It also pointed to a consequence which hadn’t registered last August when I heard news of teams of firefighters coming to California from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Spain to assist. With increasingly severe wildfires, suppression resources are now globalized. Not only do we share expertise and personnel internationally, but also air attack planes. In the entire world there are only about a dozen of the large jet airtankers that we saw in the Rim Fire last year and the Lake County fires this year, and those planes not only move about North America, but also have been called in to fight wildfires in Spain and travel between the northern hemisphere to southern each year as the seasons change. With fire seasons worldwide now roughly a month longer than 30 years ago, this means that every fall and spring we are contending with our counterparts half a world away for these critical resources.