Wildfires raging across the US West Coast have filled the air with enough carbon dioxide to wipe out more than half of the region’s pandemic-driven emissions reductions last year. And that was just in July.
The numbers illustrate a troubling feedback loop. Climate change creates hotter, drier conditions that fuel increasingly frequent and devastating fires—which, in turn, release greenhouse gases that will drive further warming.
The problem will likely grow worse in the coming decades across large parts of the globe. That means not only will deadly fires exact a rising toll on communities, emergency responders, air quality, human health, and forests, but they will also undermine our limited progress in addressing climate change, writes James Temple for the MIT Technology Review.
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