Daily Archives: June 13, 2013

Is Global Warming Causing More and Bigger Fires in Colorado?

High temperatures and dry conditions have caused the outbreak, increased intensity, and rapid spread of numerous wildfires in Colorado. Again. Fires happen, but the number, size, and intensity of wildfires in the western United States has been very high in recent years, and this is caused by global warming.

Global warming causes more rain and more frequent and more severe storm lines. More rain causes more plant growth in otherwise arid regions, and severe storms knock a lot of that vegetation down. This causes more light to get to the ground, so “ladder” vegetation, which enhances fire spread, increases, and the fallen branches add to the fuel that has already been increased by the increased rainfall.

Global warming causes drought, when it isn’t busy causing rain. So, areas with increased amounts of fuel that has been configured to increase fire intensity and spreadability become tinder-rich. Along with the drought comes increased spring and summer temperatures, also caused by global warming and this dries out the vegetation making it much more likely for fires to start, grow quickly, spread, and become large.

We’ve known this for some time, and there is all sorts of evidence to back up the assertion that global warming is the reason for the fire seasons on steroids effect we are seeing now (links to some of this are provided below).

So, yes.

James West has written a very thorough piece demonstrating all these connections, and more, in Mother Jones: How Climate Change Makes Wildfires Worse.

And here’s some backup information for you:

<li><a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060710084004.htm">More Large Forest Fires Linked To Climate Change</a></li>

<li><a href="http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v470/n7334/full/nature09763.html">Human contribution to more-intense precipitation extremes</a></li>

<li><a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/04/climate-change-america-wildfire-season?CMP=twt_gu">Climate change causing US wildfire season to last longer, Congress told</a></li>

<li><a href="http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/ES11-00345.1">Climate change and disruptions to global fire activity</a></li>

<li><a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2012GL051000/abstract">Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes</a></li>

<li><a href="https://www2.ucar.edu/atmosnews/news/1036/record-high-temperatures-far-outpace-record-lows-across-us">RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURES FAR OUTPACE RECORD LOWS ACROSS U.S.</a></li>

<li><a href="http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/x09-153#.Ubnq5fb7289">Potential changes in monthly fire risk in the eastern Canadian boreal forest under future climate change</a></li>

More on Climate Change here.

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Can you patent DNA?

No. Not if it is natural.

In a decision that could have broad-reaching effects on the future of science and medicine, the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that:

— “A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated.”

— But, synthetically created “strands of nucleotides known as composite DNA (cDNA)” are “patent eligible” because they do not occur naturally.


Our system of patents is badly broken, I think. About the only people I’ve ever heard say otherwise are … wait for it … patent lawyers.

At least this one little part of it is fixed now.

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