Wildfires in Western North America – a third of their impact attributed to fossil fuel and cement production

16 May 2023

As wildfires in Western North America have become increasingly frequent and intense over the years, destroying both natural and human-made habitats, scientists have aimed to understand how and why.

According to a new analysis released this week, more than a third of this impact can be attributed to fossil fuel and cement production. As the article explains, researchers determined that the “vapor pressure deficit”, which indicates the ability for air to pull water from plants and soil, has risen in the area along with global temperatures. This exacerbates the ability for wildfires to form and spread.

The same study also determined that top fossil fuel and cement producers alone have contributed to 0.5°C of the global rise in temperatures since the early 20th century – this corresponds to nearly half of global warming to date.

According to Kristina Dahl from the Union of Concerned Scientists, a lead author of the study: “We’re hopeful that with new evidence in hand, policymakers, elected officials, and legal experts will be better equipped to truly hold fossil fuel companies accountable in public, political and legal arenas.” (The Hill)

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