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Australia’s massive fires could become routine, climate scientists warn

LONDON – Bush fires ravaging Australia have provided a foretaste of the kinds of conditions that could become normal unless the world moves rapidly to curb emissions of the greenhouse gases driving global warming, scientists have warned.

Although Australia’s government and parts of its media have attempted to downplay the role of man-made climate change in making the country more vulnerable to wildfires, a review of 57 scientific papers published since 2013 suggested clear links.

“We’re not going to reverse climate change on any conceivable timescale. So the conditions that are happening now, they won’t go away,” Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts Research at Britain’s Met Office Hadley Centre, who co-authored the review, told a news conference in London on Monday (Jan 13).

The review found that climate change had led to an increase in the frequency and severity of what scientists call “fire weather” – periods with a high fire risk due to some combination of hotter temperatures, low humidity, low rainfall and strong winds.

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