Forest Fires and Climate Change

A playground destroyed by fire

A playground destroyed by fire  

Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by the devastating forest fires of northern Alberta.

What I am about to discuss will offend some people.

Fires are devastating. We as a society are contributing to the explosiveness of forest fires. We are not doing it intentionally but now that we are beginning to see that some of our economic choices have a destructive and devastating impact, we need to keep an open mind and an open heart. We can make a difference.

Forest fires need three things: fuel, ignition and weather. The fuel needs to be dry and easy to burn. Ignition can come from lightning which is a byproduct of extreme weather like thunderstorms. Weather can feed a fire by blowing oxygen into it or kill it with rain/precipitation.

So what does Climate Change have to do with it?

Climate Change has been linked to an increase in temperatures and droughts. 2016 is the warmest year on record. Northern Alberta has experienced the third most dry and the second hottest winter and spring on record. The weather has been higher than 30°C or 86°F. Let’s just say this – for Northern Canada that’s hot! Historically the temperature in Northern Alberta for this time of year would be 13°C or 55°F.

Climate Change has been linked to powerful winds. Wind is created by air moving from areas of high pressure to low pressure. Pressure changes as a result of uneven heating of the earth’s atmosphere. As the oceans warm and glaciers melt, warmer winds blow. These winds become more powerful as they blow towards areas of lower pressure. Last week, in the case of Northern Alberta, the winds consistently exceeded 30Km/hour or 18mph.

Climate change has been linked to droughts. The warmer weather leads to more evaporation. Water is literally sucked out of the forests and they become dry and more susceptible to fire.

Forest fires are a way of life in the Boreal forests of Northern Alberta. But what is different is the amount of area burned. It has doubled since the 1970s. The fire season now begins before winter is scheduled to end. It began March 1st 2016. I am told that in the 1970s, forest fire season began in June.

Today we have many refugees of Climate Change here in Canada.

We need to work together to find ways that will decrease our carbon footprint. It is time to rebuild the Canadian economy. We can.

Fort McMurray was first founded as a Hudson Bay Trading Post in 1879. The first explorers brought trade and opportunity. They worked collaboratively with our First Nations. They shared their faith, their wealth and their hope for the future.

We need the spirit of our Canadian explorers to return and rebuild northern Alberta. We need to work collaboratively with our First Nations. We need to share our faith, our wealth and our hope for the future.

Northern Lights of Fort McMurray

Northern Lights of Fort McMurray

For all the refugees of Climate Change, let us find creative ways to rebuild your homes, your economy and let us together minimize our carbon footprint so that we can let our children play and prosper. We pray.

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