Wildfires Burning Over One Million Acres in US Right Now

Lookout Mountain

View from Lookout Mountain, CO. Not clouds. Not Smog. Smoke from wildfires 800 miles away.

Smoke from wildfires in the western United States. About 1.4 million acres of fires at the present time and over 7.5 million acres burned so far this year. Due in large part to climate change caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

As of this afternoon, 77 large fires are burning across 1.4 million acres in eight western U.S. states. That’s an area more than three times the size of Houston.

Since the beginning of this year, 46,951 fires have burned across 7,650,844 acres of the United States, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. For the prior 10 years (2006-2016), the annual average has been 5,488,788 acres. So eight months through 2017, we’ve already beaten the average for an entire year by nearly 40 percent. And we still have quite a ways to go before fire season ends — if it ends…

Research shows that wildfire activity in the western United States has increased dramatically, thanks to our emissions of greenhouse gases. Among the latest research is a study published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings were summarized in a news release from Columbia University’s Earth Institute:

. . . human-induced climate change has doubled the area affected by forest fires in the U.S. West over the last 30 years. According to the study, since 1984 heightened temperatures and resulting aridity have caused fires to spread across an additional 16,000 square miles than they otherwise would have—an area larger than the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. The authors warn that further warming will increase fire exponentially in coming decades.

This smoke covers much of the continental United States. It’s affecting air quality in numerous states. If you have asthma or any other respiratory illness this is dangerous to your health. And poor air quality doesn’t discriminate against people based on color, religion, or any other basis. Houston and Hurricane Harvey is one giant reason we should be having a major debate on how to cut carbon emissions, but this is another one.

But we’re not. We are obsessing over a tinhorn dictator in North Korea and an idiot Tweeter in Chief. Some of us (Centrist and Establishment Dems) are busy smearing others of us (Progressive Dems, Socialists and Greens). Meanwhile this year we are on pace to set a record for Billion Dollar Extreme Weather Events in one year.

Before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas last week, there had been nine weather and climate disasters costing $1bn or more in the US since the start of 2017. Such events cost an estimated $16.4bn in total and caused 57 deaths.

And we’ve had “… nearly 100 such events from 2007 to 2016, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.” Total cost of all those? Over Four Hundred Thirty-One Billion Dollars ($431,100,000,000) of damage and that’s before we add in the cost for this year’s extreme weather.

And guess who is not picking up the tab? The corporations that profit off of increased carbon emissions. Like Exxon and BP and hundreds of other companies around the world. And that’s just the damage that been done to the US economy. Imagine what the cost of extreme weather events worldwide has been over the last ten years alone. We are talking trillions of dollars all so Exxon, etc. can make profits for their shareholders and senior executives.

So all you folks convinced that doing something to stop climate change will be bad for our economy are dead wrong. I imagine some who used to believe that don’t anymore because they are dead because of increased extreme weather events attributable to climate change. The reality is that it is costing us more and more each year in money and human lives by doing nothing than it would ever cost to take action to ameliorate climate disasters that at this point are unavoidable.

But hey, lets talk about Russiagate some more, or how horrible Bernie Sanders/Wikileaks/{Insert Your Own Option Here} is. God forbid we take climate disasters seriously.

About Steven D. Searls

Father of two adult children, husband for over 30 years, and a retired Attorney due to a rare autoimmune disorder. Love books and movies. Politics: Progressive (but not a fan of either Clinton, neoconservatism or neoliberalism). Current avocation: writing poetry, fiction and political commentary online, under my user name "Steven D."
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10 Responses to Wildfires Burning Over One Million Acres in US Right Now

  1. That smoke looks worse than what we had here last year, when the big fire nearly destroyed the resort town of Gatlinburg, TN. We are downwind from Sevier County by about 80 miles, cross country so it drifted this way. We had smoke and spectacular sunsets, but nothing like the photo you posted.

    It is going to get worse before it gets better.

  2. wordcloud9 says:

    I find this quote particularly apt for what’s happening:

    “There is only one kind of shock worse than the totally unexpected: the expected shock for which one has refused to prepare.” – Mary Renault

  3. Terry Welshans says:

    Wild/brush fires move fast and eat everything in their path. I grew up in Burbank, CA, very close to the La Tuna fire that is now burning. That fire started above Burbank and is heading west. When I was a kid these fires were common this time of year as the winds and heat dry the brush to tender. I recall fires starting well east that took several days to move across the San Gabriel range toward the Simi Valley. Most of the fires seem to stem from arson when the conditions are right. Now, the fire season lasts longer and it seems hotter and dryer, all symptoms of a changing climate.

    Instead of fighting climate change, we should embrace it by finding a solution and focusing on creating companies that encourage green energy like solar and wind. The days of burning gas, oil and coal should end before it kills us.

  4. pete says:

    Yeah, I’m sitting here looking at a category 5 hurricane bearing down on a state where state employees are forbidden to say “climate change”.

    If this thing gets through the Florida Straits and into the gulf they may have to revise the scale to add a category 6.

    • Latest European supercomputer models show the monster coming ashore and heading right up I-75. They are now talking about hurricane warnings in Knoxville.


      There is nothing like this in recorded history. Everyone in the path stay safe. I am in the projected path, but at 1,500 feet above mean sea level and 350 miles inland, we are safe from storm surges. Straight line winds and torrential rain are our dangers.

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