The choice facing Canada and Australia when it comes to wildfires

Giant wildfires growing ever larger in the bone-dry summer heat. Shocking images of people fleeing fire-stricken communities lit with a dystopian orange glow. Political squabbles over whether to blame the climate crisis.

In many ways, the fires ravaging Australia are similar to ⁠the ones that have choked Western Canada over the last few summers, although they are much more deadly.

As climate change accelerates and wildfires become the new normal for both countries, political leaders in Canada and Australia are facing increasingly urgent decisions about how to prepare for a world that burns more often and more intensely.

“Boy, have we ever had a lot of wakeup calls in the last few years,” said Marc-André Parisien, a research scientist at the federal government’s Northern Forestry Centre in Edmonton.

Giant wildfires growing ever larger in the bone-dry summer heat. Shocking images of people fleeing fire-stricken communities lit with a dystopian orange glow. Political squabbles over whether to blame the climate crisis.

In many ways, the fires ravaging Australia are similar to ⁠the ones that have choked Western Canada over the last few summers, although they are much more deadly.

As climate change accelerates and wildfires become the new normal for both countries, political leaders in Canada and Australia are facing increasingly urgent decisions about how to prepare for a world that burns more often and more intensely.

“Boy, have we ever had a lot of wakeup calls in the last few years,” said Marc-André Parisien, a research scientist at the federal government’s Northern Forestry Centre in Edmonton.

He pointed to the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, the 2017 wildfires in British Columbia, the even-larger ones in 2018 in that same province, and the wildfires in northern Alberta in 2019 as recent examples.

“What’s happening in Australia is terrible, and we would never want to minimize that. But we have this situation in this country, and we still most certainly have the power to be proactive on how we deal with these wildfires.”

So far, the bushfires in Australia have killed 25 people and scorched millions of acres of land, destroying hundreds of properties.

Nearly half a billion animals are also likely to have died in the flames, according to one widely reported estimate. Photos of evacuees and a kangaroo leaping past a wall of flame have grabbed headlines across the world, while Canada has sent firefighters to help on the front lines.

To view to full original article by Carl Meyer & Emma McIntosh, click here: https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/01/07/analysis/choice-facing-canada-and-australia-when-it-comes-wildfires

 Photo by Government of Alberta (Chris Schwarz)