ISIS urges followers to ‘ignite fires’ in forests across US and Europe

ISIS is urging its followers to spark wildfires across the US and Europe, according to reports.

Enlarge ImageISIS allegedly released posters calling upon their followers to start fires in Europe and America.
ISIS allegedly released posters calling upon their followers to start fires in Europe and America.MEMRI

At least four propaganda posters have appeared on Quraysh, a pro-ISIS media outlet, urging followers to “ignite fires” in forests, The Washington Free Beacon says, citing The Middle East Media Research Institute.

“Ignite fires in the forests of America, France, Britain, and Germany, for they are painful to them,” one poster reads, according to the site.

The disturbing call comes as wildfires have devastated California. There has been no suggestion yet any were started by terrorists.

The first threat appeared in April, according to the research institute, which monitors radical groups.

“Oh monotheists [followers of ISIS], ignite fires in the forests and fields, and we are addressing especially those who live in Europe and America, for they are painful to them,” that first warning read, according to the report.

‘No more’: Trump says he’ll cut off federal funds to fight California wildfires

USA TODAY

President Donald Trump said Sunday that he wants to cut off federal funds to fight wildfires raging across California, tweeting that Gov. Gavin Newsom should “get his act together” and properly manage the state’s forests.

Trump, in a series of tweets, lauded the efforts of firefighters but accused Newsom of catering to environmentalists instead of focusing on fire deterrence. He said he previously warned Newsom that the state must “clean” forest floors of incendiary debris.

“Every year, as the fire’s rage & California burns, it is the same thing-and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help,” Trump said. “No more. Get your act together Governor. You don’t see close to the level of burn in other states.”

Newsom responded on Twitter that, since Trump does not believe in climate change, he is “excused from this conversation.”

‘It’s not an unsolvable problem’:PG&E and Southern California Edison have turned off power to minimize fires. It hasn’t worked. What will?

The federal government owns more than half of California’s forest land while most of the rest is privately owned. The state owns about 3%. Newsom issued a statement saying the U.S. Forest Service has twice this year reduced its forest management targets on its land in the state. Trump’s 2020 budget calls for more cuts in the hazardous fuels reduction account, Newsom added.

Last month, the governor signed a series of bills aimed at improving California’s wildfire prevention, mitigation and response efforts.

“We’re successfully waging war against thousands of fires started across the state in the last few weeks due to extreme weather created by climate change,” Newsom said, “while Trump is conducting a full on assault against the antidotes.”

A Cal Fire firefighter works on the Maria blaze in the hills near Ventura, Calif., on Nov. 1, 2019.

Trump has threatened to cut off firefighting funds before. In January he tweeted that “billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!”

Newsom responded then that he was working to modernize forest management, adding that “disasters and recovery are no time for politics.”

Scientist still sees hope in climate fight

Climatologist Phil Mote

Phil Mote, the director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University, discusses climate change and its myths at the Columbia Forum on Tuesday night.

Climatologist Phil Mote presented 10 myths about climate change Tuesday night but ended his presentation with an 11th myth: There is no hope.

“I find several reasons for hope,” the director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University told the Columbia Forum.

Mote pointed to an increase in solar panel installation, more people driving electric cars, wave energy testing off the coast of Newport, geothermal power plants and teenage activist Greta Thunberg.

“The young people getting passionate about this and pushing for change gives me great hope,” he said.

Mote’s presentation at Baked Alaska in Astoria opened the 30th season of the Columbia Forum speaker series.

He addressed some of the most common myths about climate change, including that the Northwest will see little effect from global warming.

“We’re seeing all these fires and they are clearly linked empirically to the warming climate,” Mote said. “It’s not like fires have never existed, but they are bigger.”

He said rising temperatures cause snow drought, which in the distant future will affect flow levels in the Columbia River to run counter to irrigation demands.

“Rising seas and increasing storminess are already wreaking havoc with many of the coastal areas,” Mote said.

He shared an analysis of infrastructure at risk from 4 feet of sea level rise in counties along the coast.

Clatsop County was ranked the most affected county in all categories, including the number of people affected, number of homes, number of miles of roadway and number of sewage treatment plants.

“So, even 4 feet of sea level rise or high water event can really have impacts,” Mote said.

Another myth he shared is the idea global warming is natural.

“There’s a big difference between the human influence and the natural influences and together they can explain most of what we saw in the 20th century record,” Mote said.

However, he said science shows that human influence has been the dominant cause of global warming.

And scientists are not divided over that, he said.

“The closer you are to the evidence and to the work that all of the scientific community is doing, the clearer it is that humans are responsible,” Mote said.

He also addressed the common misconception that there is time to prevent irreversible damage from climate change.

“At whatever point we stabilize CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, in other words at whatever point we’re done emitting CO2, that’s roughly where the temperature will stop,” Mote said. “There’s nothing particularly magical about 2 degrees Celsius.”

He said there’s more impact with each degree, but there is no tipping point. He said carbon dioxide emissions just need to be reduced as quickly as possible.

“There’s a huge gap from where we’re headed absent of policy and where we think we want to go in order to stabilize global climate. And this is one of the most out-in-front states in the union, California and a couple of others being ahead of us,” Mote said.

He said stabilizing carbon dioxide emissions will be a major challenge.

“My view as a scientist is I want to see emissions reduced because I understand the harm that will happen if we don’t reduce emissions. And whatever policy gets us to reduce emissions is fine with me — if it’s cap and trade, if it’s carbon tax, if it’s just executive branch regulation — at any means necessary,” he said.

‘National tragedy’: Hundreds of koalas feared dead in Australian wildfire

 

‘We’re not holding out too much hope,’ says conservationist after lightning causes major blaze

Conservationists fear 350 animals could be killed (file photo)

Conservationists fear 350 animals could be killed (file photo) ( Getty Images )

Hundreds of koalas are feared to have died in wildfires raging along Australia’s east coast.

The fire started on Friday after a lightning strike hit a forest in the state of New South Wales.

The blaze has since burned through 4,900 acres.

Sue Ashton, the president of Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, said two-thirds of the area, 300km north of Sydney, was koala habitat.

“If we look at a 50 per cent survival rate, that’s around about 350 koalas and that’s absolutely devastating,” the conservationist said.

“We’re hoping it’s not as bad as that, but because of the intensity of the fire and the way koala’s behave during fire, we’re not holding out too much hope.”

She added: “It’s a national tragedy because this koala population is so unique,” according to the AFP news agency.

Koalas climb high into trees during wildfires. They may survive if the fire front passes quickly below them.

“Bushfires can have horrific consequences for everyone – human, domestic animals and of course our precious wildlife,” a spokesperson for the Koala Hospital added on Facebook.

California Governor Declares Statewide Emergency as Nearly 200,000 Evacuate

Nearly 200,000 people were ordered to evacuate their homes and two million were without power Sunday as wildfires, fanned by howling winds, ripped through northern California, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a statewide emergency.

Horrifying video footage and photos of the blazes circulated on social media Sunday as environmentalists said the fires are one of the devastating consequences of the human-caused climate crisis.

“The forces we’ve unleashed are beyond terrifying,” tweeted 350.org founder Bill McKibben in response to a photo showing a fire that broke out in the city of Vallejo around the Carquinez Bridge, shrouding it in smoke and briefly shutting down traffic.

Responding to the same photo, environmentalist and author Naomi Klein tweeted, “My lord.”

Naomi Klein

@NaomiAKlein

My lord https://twitter.com/mulsirhc/status/1188511329637658624 

Chris Lumanglas@mulsirhc

Carquinez Bridge #Vallejo 🔥

View image on Twitter
148 people are talking about this

Craig Rose@SmokeShowing911

Fire in Vallejo has burnt down to the water. There are Maritime Academy personnel actively fighting the fire. Fire burning actively under the Carquinez Bridge.

View image on Twitter
1,083 people are talking about this

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, more than a dozen fires burned across California as of Sunday, with the Kincade fire in Sonoma County causing the most destruction. The Kincade blaze has burned nearly 55,000 acres and destroyed dozens of structures.

“More than 3,400 firefighters and other personnel battled the Kincade Fire,” the Chronicle reported. “A force amassed outside Windsor to try to keep the flames from roaring over Highway 101, possibly setting off a hellish rampage that could reach the Pacific Ocean.”

Carol Pajala, a 67-year-old Santa Rosa resident who was forced to flee her home, described the scene as “apocalyptic,” and video footage posted online bolstered that description:

Reuters

@Reuters

California declares a statewide emergency as high winds and low humidity continue to fan devastating wildfires. More here: https://reut.rs/2MPQsas 

Embedded video

188 people are talking about this

ABC News

@ABC

Harrowing footage gives a close-up view of wildfire that broke out near I-80 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

California Gov. Newsom has declared a statewide emergency due to “high-wind events which have resulted in fires and evacuations across the state.” https://abcn.ws/32RYkhd 

Embedded video

796 people are talking about this

Sam Brock

@SamBrockNBC

Fire encroaching the highway on 128, both sides, in Sonoma Co. in Healdsburg. Major wind gusts kicking up and and trees and power lines down everywhere. Updates to come @NBCNews @TODAYshow

Embedded video

1,173 people are talking about this

Newsom said Sunday that the winds fueling fires across the state are “unprecedented” and announced he is “deploying every resource available” to combat the blazes.

“It is critical that people in evacuation zones heed the warnings from officials and first responders, and have the local and state resources they need as we fight these fires,” Newsom said.

On Twitter, Varshini Prakash, co-founder and executive director of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, said the fires and the severe damage they have caused must be met with urgent and nationwide climate action.

“My stomach is in knots,” said Prakash. “Our rage as a nation has to burn as fiercely as every fire we witness — for the retiree who’s lost their entire life savings, for the family forced to evacuate from a home they may never come back to, for the child suffocating in smoke miles away.”

“Wishing all my CA family safety in the midst of this fire,” Prakash added. “But more than that, I’m sending you a commitment to fight every day so your homes, families, and communities won’t have to face this worsening hell moving forward.”

Is Earth on fire?

The European Space Agency was asking this question late last week, as multiple fires burned across the globe. Read more about 2019 fires, and fire-tracking via satellite, here.

Animation using red dots shows contrast between August 2018 and August 2019 fires on a map of Earth.

View larger. | Global fires detected in August 2018 in contrast to August 2019. The Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas recorded 79,000 wildfires in August 2019, compared to just over 16,000 fires during the same period in 2018. Image via ESA.

Is Earth on fire? The European Space Agency was asking this question late last week (October 25, 2019), as multiple fires burned in Lebanon, in California, and elsewhere on the globe. Is Earth on fire, and, if it is, how do we know? How do scientists track earthly fires from one year to the next? How do they distinguish between a “normal” years for wildfires – since wildfire is indeed a normal and natural occurrence on Earth – and an exceptional year, like 2019? ESA wrote:

[The fires in Lebanon and California] are just some of the many fires 2019 has seen. Fires in the Amazonsparked a global outcry this summer, but fires have also been blazing in the Arctic, France, Greece, Indonesia as well as many other areas in the world.

ESA said that in the context of announcing an updated tool for tracking fires around the globe, called the Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas, whose prototype product and algorithm were presented at an international conference in Rome on October 3. ESA explained some insights gathered with the new tool this way:

Data from the Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas shows that there were almost five times as many wildfires in August 2019 compared to August 2018, but a detailed analysis reveals precisely where these fires have been occurring – most of which were in Asia.

The Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission recorded 79,000 fires in August this year, compared to just over 16,000 fires detected during the same period last year. These figures were achieved by using data from the Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas Prototype, which is also able to provide a breakdown of these fires per continent.

The data reveal 49% of fires were detected in Asia, around 28% were detected in South America, 16% in Africa, and the remaining were recorded in North America, Europe and Oceania.

EarthSky 2020 lunar calendars are available! They make great gifts. Order now. Going fast!

Graph with slightly rising green horizontal line and a red line with a huge spike.

The trend of wildfires detected in 2019 are shown in red, while fires detected in 2018 can be seen in green. The Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas shows 70,000+ fires in August 2019, compared to just over 16,632 fires in August 2018. Image via ESA.

ESA explained that sensors on the Sentinel-3 satellite work:

… like thermometers in the sky [measuring] thermal infrared radiation to take the temperature of Earth’s land surfaces. This information is used to detect and monitor the heat emitted by the fires.

And, ESA added:

Even if the atlas cannot pick up all fires due to satellite overpass constraints and cloud coverage, it is statistically representative from one month to the other and from one year to the other.

Speaking specifically of the year 2019, ESA’s Olivier Arino commented:

We have never seen an increase of wildfires of this kind since the ATSR World Fire Atlas was created in 1995.

A world map showing very many hot spots.

View larger. | Each orange dot in this FIRMS Fire Map image from October 26, 2019, represents a hotspot detected over the previous 24 hours by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua Earth observing satellites. Image courtesy of NASA FIRMS.

The European Space Agency isn’t alone in tracking fires around the globe, of course. NASA’s raw fire data comes largely from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments aboard its Terra and Aquasatellites. According to an article titled Wildfires Can’t Hide from Earth Observing Satellites – by Josh Blumenfeld of NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) – you can sign up with NASA to receive Fire Alerts. Blumenfeld wrote:

Between July 15 and 22, 2019, [a NASA-affiliated product called] the Global Forest Watch Fires – an online platform that monitors and responds to forest and land fires – sent out 782,366 worldwide Fire Alerts via email. A majority of alerts over this seven-day period were sent to subscribers in Russia (178,484), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (136,087), Angola (109,512), and Zambia (52,801).

While these fires burn, though, they can’t hide. Even in the most remote corners of the globe, their heat signatures can be detected by sensors aboard Earth observing satellites. The ability to rapidly provide information about the approximate location and movement of individual wildfires using instruments aboard Earth observing satellites is a global success story that is helping save lives and property.

Also, in August, 2019, NASA announced the Global Fire Atlas, which it called:

… an easily accessible database chronicling the dynamics of 13.3 million fires [between 2003 and 2016].

This atlas operates differently from ESA’s World Fire Atlas, providing:

For each fire, the atlas contains detailed information about when each fire started and ended, in what direction it spread, how quickly it moved, and more.

Here are some links to explore if you want to know more about wildfires on Earth and how they are tracked:

Visit ESA’s Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas

Go to NASA’s new Global Fire Atlas

Sign up here to receive Fire Alerts from NASA FIRMS

Sign up here for Fire Alerts from ESA

Read more: 6 Trends to Know about Fire Season in the Western U.S. from NASA Earth Observatory

Bottom line: Tracking wildfires is part of the service provided by both NASA and ESA satellites. An ESA spokesperson said that the year 2019 saw an increase in the number of wildfires seen, bigger than any increase since ESA’s World Fire Atlas was created in 1995.

Via ESA: Is Earth on Fire?

Via NASA: A New Global Fire Atlas

Via NASA: Wildfires Can’t Hide from Earth Observing Satellites

California wildfires force more than 50,000 evacuations after ‘historic wind event,’ more power shutoffs

Authorities have ordered at least 50,000 people in Northern California to evacuate on Saturday as a potentially “catastrophic” wind event could amplify the wildfires that have scorched the area.

The entire towns of Healdsburg and Windsor are set to evacuate ahead of strong winds that may lead to erratic fire behavior.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office expects to be the biggest evacuation in the county in over 25 years with Sheriff Mark Essick saying its the largest evacuation order he’s experienced in his 26-year career.

CALIFORNIA UTILITY PG&E COULD CUT POWER TO 850,000 HOUSEHOLDS OVER ‘HISTORIC WIND EVENT’

Richard and Sheri Rose fill a plastic jerry can to power their generator while the power remains shut off from the Tick Fire, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. An estimated 50,000 people were under evacuation orders in the Santa Clarita area north of Los Angeles as hot, dry Santa Ana winds howling at up to 50 mph (80 kph) drove the flames into neighborhoods (AP Photo/ Christian Monterrosa)

Richard and Sheri Rose fill a plastic jerry can to power their generator while the power remains shut off from the Tick Fire, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. An estimated 50,000 people were under evacuation orders in the Santa Clarita area north of Los Angeles as hot, dry Santa Ana winds howling at up to 50 mph (80 kph) drove the flames into neighborhoods (AP Photo/ Christian Monterrosa)

“This fire is very dangerous,” Essick said at a press conference Saturday.

Weather forecasts indicate that strong winds are set to impact much of the region over the weekend. Some gusts are projected to reach 85 mph and there’s a possibility of it being a record wind event, the National Weather Service warned,

“The winds are expected anywhere between 8 p.m. and midnight and from all reports they’re expected to be extremely strong,” said Brian Vitorelo with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Christine Price, left, drops off food and water for evacuees from the Tick Fire with the help of her daughter Tinley, background right, at a shelter at West Ranch High School Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Christine Price, left, drops off food and water for evacuees from the Tick Fire with the help of her daughter Tinley, background right, at a shelter at West Ranch High School Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The Mayor of Windsor encouraged residents to get out quickly.

“This is a life-threatening situation and a danger to our entire town,” Foppoli told ABC News.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) confirmed it would initiate a mass power shut-off of nearly 940,000 customers on Saturday, with the total impacted rising from 2.5 to 2.8 million.

PG&E will shut off power in six phases, beginning at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, and ending at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27. The warning was announced as firefighters battled flames in Northern and Southern California.

SoCal Edison crews replace power lines that were damaged from the Tick Fire, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. An estimated 50,000 people were under evacuation orders in the Santa Clarita area north of Los Angeles as hot, dry Santa Ana winds howling at up to 50 mph (80 kph) drove the flames into neighborhoods (AP Photo/ Christian Monterrosa)from the Tick Fire, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. An estimated 50,000 people were under evacuation orders in the Santa Clarita area north of Los Angeles as hot, dry Santa Ana winds howling at up to 50 mph (80 kph) drove the flames into neighborhoods (AP Photo/ Christian Monterrosa)

SoCal Edison crews replace power lines that were damaged from the Tick Fire, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. An estimated 50,000 people were under evacuation orders in the Santa Clarita area north of Los Angeles as hot, dry Santa Ana winds howling at up to 50 mph (80 kph) drove the flames into neighborhoods (AP Photo/ Christian Monterrosa)from the Tick Fire, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. An estimated 50,000 people were under evacuation orders in the Santa Clarita area north of Los Angeles as hot, dry Santa Ana winds howling at up to 50 mph (80 kph) drove the flames into neighborhoods (AP Photo/ Christian Monterrosa)

The Kincade Fire has burned 25,455 acres and was 10 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. More than 23,500 structures are at risk of being damaged.

A blaze on Thursday destroyed at least six homes in the Santa Clarita area near Los Angeles and led to evacuation orders for up to 50,000 residents, although many were allowed back home after Santa Ana winds began to ease. As of Saturday afternoon the blaze was 25 percent contained.

Authorities said Friday human remains have been found in the burned area. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the death is under investigation but it’s too soon to know whether the death was connected to the fire in Santa Clarita.

CALIFORNIA’S BLACKOUTS ARE A CAUTIONARY TALE, WARNS FORMER CA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN

To the north, firefighters raced to make progress against a blaze near Geyserville in Sonoma County before ferocious “diablo winds” returned. The fire had burned 49 buildings, including 21 homes, and swept through nearly 40 square miles of the wine-growing region. It was 10% contained by Saturday morning.

Several thousand people living in small communities in neighboring Lake County were warned to be ready to evacuate if an order is given. The area was the scene of a 2015 wildfire that killed four people and burned nearly 2,000 homes and other buildings.

High winds this weekend could ground water-dropping aircraft, disperse fire retardant and drive hot embers far ahead of the flames to set new blazes, Cal Fire Division Chief Jonathan Cox warned.

“You can’t fight a fire that’s spotting ahead of itself a quarter of a mile, half a mile, in some cases a mile ahead of itself,” he said.

No cause has been determined for any of the current fires, but PG&E said a 230,000-volt transmission line near Geyserville had malfunctioned minutes before that fire erupted Wednesday night.

The utility acknowledged that the discovery of the tower malfunction had prompted a change in its strategy.

“We have revisited and adjusted some of our standards and protocols in determining when we will de-energize high-voltage transmission lines,” Andrew Vesey, CEO of Pacific Gas & Electric Co., said at a briefing Friday.

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES: NEWSOM ISSUES PROCLAMATION, KINCADE FIRE MAY HAVE BEEN SPARKED BY TRANSMISSION LINE

The weekend forecasts detail what could be the strongest winds of the year coupled with bone-dry humidity.

“These places we all love have effectively become tinderboxes,” Vesey said. “Any spark, from any source, can lead to catastrophic results. We do not want to become one of those sources.”

The possible link between the wine country fire and a PG&E transmission line contained grim parallels to a catastrophic fire last year that tore through the town of Paradise, killing 85 people and destroying thousands of homes in the deadliest U.S. fire in a century.

State officials concluded that fire was sparked by a PG&E transmission line.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, tours a home destroyed by the Kincade fire on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Geyserville, Calif. Newsom declared a state of emergency Friday as wildfires scorch both ends of the state from Sonoma to Los Angeles. (Karl Mondon/San Jose Mercury News via AP)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, tours a home destroyed by the Kincade fire on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Geyserville, Calif. Newsom declared a state of emergency Friday as wildfires scorch both ends of the state from Sonoma to Los Angeles. (Karl Mondon/San Jose Mercury News via AP)

Asherah Davidown, 17, of Magalia and her family lost their house, two dogs and a car in the Paradise fire. She said her family was preparing for another power outage by filling the gas tank of their car and buying non-perishable foods and batteries for their flashlights.

The outages reminded her of her family’s vulnerable position as they struggle to get back on their feet.

“My house doesn’t have a generator so that means another weekend of sitting in the dark with no Wi-Fi, no food in the fridge and shopping in increments since we don’t know how long the power may be out,” Davidown said.

The continuing round of power outages made her feel somewhat vulnerable as her family tries to get back on its feet, she said.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“For the most part, a lot of people feel really helpless. Their livelihoods are at the fingertips of a corporation,” she said. “There’s still a lot of hurt and emotional recovery. Having our basic needs repeatedly taken away is really unfortunate.”

The Associated Press contributed to the report

Global Wildfires Are Raging, Leaving Long-Lasting Damage

Global Wildfires Are Raging, Leaving Long-Lasting Damage

Record or near-record temperatures, combined with drought in many areas, are contributing to yet another record-setting summer for wildfires. California has been largely spared so far this year, but wildfires in the Amazon rainforest and in or near the Arctic Circle are ringing alarm bells, as is a sharp increase in wildfires in Southern Europe.

As many of these fires are occurring in remote areas, they may not pose a major threat to densely populated areas, but rural populations, particularly Indigenous groups, are being affected. And whatever the immediate human toll, the fires do not bode well for humanity’s future.

The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) reports that, as of August, wildfires in Europe this year are occurring at a rate three times higher than the average over the past decade. The World Wildlife Fund recently looked at the sharp uptick of wildfires in Southern Europe and concluded that 96 percent of those fires are attributable to human activity; only 4 percent are caused by natural occurrences. Drought and scorching heat, however, are fanning the flames.

Scientists using NASA satellites to track fire activity have confirmed an increase in the number and intensity of fires in the Brazilian Amazon in 2019.
Scientists using NASA satellites to track fire activity have confirmed an increase in the number and intensity of fires in the Brazilian Amazon in 2019.
NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY IMAGES BY JOSHUA STEVENS
This map above shows active fire detections in Brazil as observed by NASA satellites between August 15-22, 2019.
This map above shows active fire detections in Brazil as observed by NASA satellites between August 15-22, 2019.
NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY IMAGES BY JOSHUA STEVENS

technical report written for the European Commission in 2017 warned that the danger of forest fires driven by weather is likely to increase with the climate changes affecting countries in the Mediterranean — especially Spain, Portugal and Turkey — but also including Southern Italy and parts of Greece. The size of this year’s outbreak appears to confirm that diagnosis.

Wildfires, it must be emphasized, are nothing new, and it is even possible in some areas that climatic changes will reduce the risk of wildfires, but the environmental stakes today are extraordinarily high.

In the Amazon, wildfires are contributing to soil erosion and localized droughts and, as a result, accelerating the eventual collapse of the Amazon ecosystem, the world’s biggest carbon sink. That would constitute a global disaster, as the Amazon Basin absorbs an estimated one-quarter of the carbon dioxide released every year from the burning of fossil fuels.

Wildfires in Siberia may hasten the melting of permafrost, thus releasing the carbon stored there, but Siberian wildfires may also be accelerating the loss of Greenland’s icecap. Smoke from the Siberian wildfires of 2012 raised alarm bells when 95 percent or more of the Greenland ice sheet experienced some degree of melting as a result of the soot deposited by the Siberian wildfires.

This summer, wildfires spread in Greenland as well as Siberia. In Greenland, it’s not the forests that are burning; Greenland has very little forest cover. It’s the grasses and other ground cover that have become fire tinder.

Because of the wildfires and record-setting heat in Greenland this summer, scientists are warning that an estimated 400 billion metric tons of ice could either melt or be calved off. If the Siberian wildfires and the hot summers in Greenland become common occurrences, the implications for sea rise would be staggering, as the complete melting of Greenland’s ice cap would raise sea levels by an estimated 20 feet.

The world may be burning, but climate change is still not a burning issue for President Trump, many of his allies in Congress, and even some parliamentarians and political leaders in Europe.

Climate change denial may actually be on the wane in the U.S., where wildfires, hurricanes, droughts and heatwaves are beginning to erase public doubts, particularly in the Western states. But right-wing leaders in Europe, including Italy’s Matteo Salvini, are seeking to undermine the European Union’s commitment to fighting climate change, and depending on how strong the populist winds blow, they may ultimately succeed. If so, hopes of fulfilling the Paris climate agreement will fade.

Time is slowly running out. The world may be on fire, and the alarms have sounded, but the fire brigades have yet to arrive.

This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

California wildfires rage on, killing 2 and sparking widespread evacuations of 100,000 residents

Two people have died in California as wildfires continue to rage out of control Friday in the greater Los Angeles area, forcing the mandatory evacuations of people in more than 20,000 homes.

Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said the fire along the northern edge of the city has grown to more than 7 square miles and has destroyed at least 25 homes. A middle-aged man who was near where the fire was burning went into cardiac arrest Thursday night and died, the chief added.

Your New Home Awaits

A new home for your best friend starts with Wells Fargo’s pre-filled online mortgage app. Get Started!

“It was a whole curtain of fire,” Edwin Bernard, a 73-year-old who had to evacuate his home in the neighborhood of Sylmar Thursday night, told the Associated Press. “There was fire on all sides. We had to leave.”

A firefighter waits for water as the Saddleridge fire flares up near homes in Sylmar, Calif.

A firefighter waits for water as the Saddleridge fire flares up near homes in Sylmar, Calif. (AP)

Police Chief Michel Moore said mandatory evacuations in the area have encompassed about 100,000 people in over 20,000 homes.

FAST-SPREADING WILDFIRE PROMPTS EVACUATIONS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

The blaze erupted around 9 p.m. Thursday along the northern tier of the San Fernando Valley as powerful Santa Ana winds swept through Southern California.

Terrazas said there were sustained winds of 20-25 mph with gusts over 50 mph and relative humidity levels had fallen as low as 3 percent.

“As you can imagine the embers from the wind have been traveling a significant distance which causes another fire to start,” Terrazas said.

The fire started in Sylmar, the northernmost portion of the valley, and spread westward at a rate of 800 acres an hour into Porter Ranch, part of a so-called urban-wildland interface where subdivisions crowd against the foothills of the Santa Susana Mountains. The cause wasn’t immediately known.

A helicopter drops water while battling the Saddleridge fire in Porter Ranch, Calif., on Friday. (AP)

A helicopter drops water while battling the Saddleridge fire in Porter Ranch, Calif., on Friday. (AP)

CALIFORNIA POWER OUTAGE FRUSTRATIONS BOIL OVER AS PG&E OFFICE VANDALIZED, TRUCK SHOT AT ON INTERSTATE 5

In Northern California, the lights were back on Friday for more than half of the 2 million residents who lost electricity after the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. utility switched it off on Wednesday to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires during dry, windy weather.

PG&E restored the power after workers inspected power lines to make sure it was safe to do so. The winds had increased the possibility of transmission lines toppling to the ground and starting wildfires.

In Los Angeles on Friday, helicopters made repeated water drops as crews attacked flames in and around homes. Water- and retardant-dropping airplanes joined the battle after daybreak. About 1,000 firefighters were on the lines.

Evacuations are also still in effect in the inland region east of Los Angeles where a fire erupted Thursday and raged through a mobile home park in the Calimesa area of Riverside County.

Los Angeles City firefighters battle the Saddleridge fire near homes in Sylmar, Calif., on Thursday.

Los Angeles City firefighters battle the Saddleridge fire near homes in Sylmar, Calif., on Thursday. (AP)

CLICK HERE FOR THE ALL-NEW FOXBUSINESS.COM

Seventy-four buildings were destroyed in that fire, others were damaged and Riverside County authorities were trying to determine if anyone was missing. One person was killed, according to Cal Fire spokeswoman Cathey Mattingly.

Fire danger is high throughout Southern California after the typically dry summer and early fall, and the notorious Santa Ana winds — linked to the spread of many wildfires — bring a dangerous mix of witheringly low humidity levels and powerful gusts.

Saddleridge Fire burning in Sylmar, Granada Hills, Porter Ranch; 1 dead, dozens of homes damaged with mandatory evacuations issued

SYLMAR, LOS ANGELES (KABC) — One person died in connection to an aggressive brush fire that broke out in Sylmar late Thursday night, leaving over 4,700 acres scorched and prompting mandatory evacuation orders for 25,000 homes as flames ripped through residential areas.

Officials held a press conference on the Saddleridge Fire Friday morning, in which they reported a man died of cardiac arrest as a result of the wind-driven blaze. A firefighter suffered a “minor” eye injury and was transported to an area hospital for treatment. At least 25 homes were destroyed in the whipping inferno, with the greatest area of impact on homes lost in Porter Ranch, Los Angeles fire officials said.

MORE: Saddleridge Fire: Massive flames lap up against Porter Ranch homes

Massive flames were seen lapping up against fenced homes in Porter Ranch Friday morning, as daylight revealed the extent of damage done by the unrelenting Saddleridge Fire.

Officials stressed that the biggest concern was ensuring homeowners heed evacuation warnings. Los Angeles police said 25,000 residences were under mandatory evacuations, impacting about 100,000 people.

One man said he was awoke by his wife around 1 a.m. as flames threatened their home.

“We could look out our window, and we could see the flames, just like over the hill. Shortly thereafter, the LAPD was on our street, using their bullhorns, telling us you guys have mandatory evacuations, you gotta get out,” he said.

MORE: Time lapse shows fast-moving Saddleridge Fire burning hillside in northern San Fernando Valley

A time lapse video shows the fast-moving Saddleridge Fire scorching a hillside in the Porter Ranch area, capturing the blaze’s path of destruction over just a few hours.

The fire erupted shortly before 10 p.m. near the westbound 210 Freeway near Yarnell Street, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. A couple of hours after the fire started, flames jumped the 5 Freeway into Granada Hills and Porter Ranch, where some homes burned, said LAFD Chief Dep. Al Poirier.

MORE: Saddleridge Fire evacuations, road and school closures

The blaze, which is burning at 800 acres per hour, is currently 0% contained. The cause of the devastating fire remains under investigation.

The 210 Freeway was shut down in both directions between the 5 and 118 freeways, according to the California Highway Patrol.

MORE: Flames engulf Porter Ranch homes

Multiple homes were seen engulfed in flames in Porter Ranch as the Saddleridge Fire raged.

Mandatory evacuation orders were in effect in the following areas:

ALL of Porter Ranch (north of 118 Freeway) from Reseda to De Soto.

The Oakridge Estates community north of the 210 Freeway.

West of Balboa, North of Sesnon to the Ventura County border with DeSoto as the western border.

MORE: Hillsides near Porter Ranch parks go up in flames

Dry brush near Porter Ranch parks went up in flames as the massive Saddleridge Fire showed no signs of slowing down Friday morning.

About 1,000 LAFD personnel and supporting crews were on scene battling the blaze, deemed a “Major Emergency” incident by LAFD, the highest classification there is for a fire emergency. Los Angeles and Kern county crews were in unified command for the incident. LAPD also had 200 uniformed personnel assigned to the fire.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power shut down power along major transmission lines and rerouted the power source to avoid any outages. Still, about 2,500 LADWP customers were without power in Sylmar and Granada Hills with an unknown time for restoration.

A separate spot fire broke out after strong winds in the area picked up some embers that traveled a few miles and ignited on the westside of the 5 Freeway near Granada Hills. Those flames rapidly erupted to at least 30 acres, west of Balboa Boulevard and San Fernando Road.