The wildfires in Colorado, the worst in the state's history, have snared headlines for over a week now. Violent flames, hundreds of thousands of acres in destruction, thirty thousand evacuees, at least one casualty, untold damage, and a visit from the president, who stopped by Colorado Springs for a photo opp filled with grim looks and charred rubble.
But this isn't just a freak occurrence. According to Princeton University's Michael Oppenheimer, a lead author for the UN's climate science panel, it's exactly what we should expect to see much more of in a world beset by climate change.Oppenheimer recently told the Guardian, "What we're seeing is a window into what global warming really looks like. It looks like heat, it looks like fires, it looks like this kind of environmental disaster … This provides vivid images of what we can expect to see more of in the future."
Just to make that a little bit more vivid, here's a map that Obama's science adviser Dr. John Holdren presented in 2010. It depicts the increased fire risks in the western United States after the global average temperature rises just a lonely 1˚ Celsius. That, by the way, will most certainly happen. Then, so will this:
Yes, that's an increase in the likelihood of wildfires in the ranges of 73-555%. That means that large swaths of the nation will much too closely resemble the seventh level of hell on a rather frequent basis.
And it turns out you can see that hell from space:
Between the wildfires, the heatwave, and news of the rapidly melting Arctic ice caps, this week has been rife with unpleasant evidence that climate change has begun to slap us all directly in the face—take the digital disaster tour of global warming and see for yourself.