Wildfires: Overpopulation and Consumption as Root Causes
(May 9, 2016, OTTAWA, ON.) As the world watches the wildfires that are devastating Fort McMurray, Alberta, an increasing number of people may recognize man-made climate change as a contributing factor, but far fewer will recognize the effect of population growth in driving climate change.
The data are conclusive that the number of wildfires in the Canadian north is increasing: a 2013 study showed the boreal forests of Alaska and northern Canada are burning at a rate unseen in the past 10,000 years, a likely result, in part, of the fact that rates of warming in Canada’s north are twice the global average.
Furthermore, wildfire researchers predict that disasters on the scale of Fort McMurray’s will become increasingly harder to prevent. A 2016 study found that as temperature increases, precipitation must increase correspondingly to prevent higher levels of combustibility.
Natural Resources Canada predicts fire-prone conditions will increase across Canada in coming years, and could potentially result in a doubling of the amount of area burned by the end of this century.
A leading expert in Canada on forest fires at the University of Alberta notes, “The area burned in Canada has increased over the past 40 to 50 years…due to human-caused climate change.”
Population Institute Canada believes it a major oversight to ignore the role played by unsustainable population growth in addition to increasing consumption in driving climate change, as both are root causes. By promoting smaller families we reduce consumption and our footprint on the planet, thereby mitigating the negative effects of global warming on the natural world – including the conditions that can lead to an increase in the number of wildfires in Canada’s boreal forests.