Australian Scientists Suggest Climate Change Caused Megafires
Australian Government scientists refute Prime Minister Scott Morrison's claims, revealing that climate change is the major influencing factor behind megafires in the country.
Climate change is the "overwhelming factor" driving Australia's ever-more intense bushfires, Australian government scientists believe, directly contradicting claims by the country's political leaders.
In a peer-reviewed study, scientists at state agency CSIRO reviewed 90 years' worth of data and concluded climate change was the major influencing factor behind megafires like those that ravaged Australia in 2019-2020.
The experts studied a range of fire risk factors including the amount of dead vegetation on the ground to moisture, weather, and ignition conditions to see what could be driving catastrophic blazes.
CSIRO chief climate research scientist Pep Canadell indicated that the study was crucial to understanding how continued climate changes might affect future fire activity.
"While all eight drivers of fire activity played varying roles in influencing forest fires, climate was the overwhelming factor driving fire activity," he explained.
Canadell pointed out that the results "suggest the frequency of forest megafires are likely to continue under future projected climate change."
The findings were published in the latest issue of the scientific journal Nature Communications on November 26.
Australia's conservative government has consistently played down the role of climate change in the 2019-2020 fires, which burned across the southeast coast and covered major cities like Sydney in smoke.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted multiple times that bushfires were normal in Australia or that the issue was forest management, but researchers found that "regression analyses with modeled fuel loads show no statistically significant relationships with burned area."
They linked those events to "increasingly more dangerous fire weather" like fire-generated thunderstorms and dry lightning "all associated to varying degrees with anthropogenic climate change."
The study found that burned area has increased by 800 percent on average in the last 20 years versus the decades before.
In recent years Australia has experienced several droughts, bushfires, and floods. However, the country's government has avoided setting a short-term emissions reduction target and has vowed to remain one of the world's largest coal and gas exporters.