An in-depth scientific analysis reveals that the devastating wildfire season witnessed in Quebec is a consequence of climate change, becoming at least seven times more likely to recur. The study, conducted by the World Weather Attribution group, underscores that greenhouse gas emissions have rendered Quebec’s fire weather around 50% more conducive to wildfires between May and June. The most severe fire-prone days were twice as likely and about 20% more severe due to current carbon levels in the atmosphere.
This revelation should serve as a wake-up call for governments, urging them to both cut emissions and prepare for the imminent challenges. Dorothy Heinrich, a co-author of the report, emphasizes the importance of adaptation strategies to mitigate the growing risk of fire weather brought about by climate change.
The impact of this phenomenon extends beyond Quebec, with wildfires ravaging nearly every province and territory in Canada this summer, scorching over 137,000 square kilometers, twice the previous record set in 1995. Notably, Quebec witnessed some of the largest fires earlier in the season, leading to massive forest losses, air quality deterioration, and even canceled baseball games.
Attribution science, employed in this study, compares climate models with and without greenhouse gas influence to quantify the extent of climate change’s contribution to extreme weather events. The report examines various indicators of wildfire risk, demonstrating that nearly all point to extreme fire hazard. The study notes that climate change’s fingerprints are unmistakable, evident in the record-setting warm June and other associated factors.
Experts emphasize that the wildfires were driven primarily by dry, warm, and windy conditions, rather than their ignition sources. They warn that the report’s conclusions are conservative, highlighting the urgent need for collective efforts in emissions reduction and adaptation.
As Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault emphasizes, the findings underscore the imperative of united action. He views this as a cautionary tale, stressing that the current climate impacts result from only a one-degree increase in temperatures, leaving one to imagine the consequences of a two-degree world. The report signals the likelihood of more fiery summers as the climate continues to warm, urging adaptation strategies to address the escalating wildfire risk.
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