Oct 29, 2015

Smoke From Wildfires Is Killing Hundreds of Thousands of People

Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa
by
Randy Lee Loftis
,
National Geographic
Known as the Rough Fire, a wildfire raged through national forests and parks in California from late July through October, burning about 152,000 acres and sending plumes of smoke over Central Valley cities such as Fresno, 35 miles away. Photo: Stuart Palley, Zuma, Corbis
Known as the Rough Fire, a wildfire raged through national forests and parks in California from late July through October, burning about 152,000 acres and sending plumes of smoke over Central Valley cities such as Fresno, 35 miles away. Photo: Stuart Palley, Zuma, Corbis

Worldwide, wildfire smoke kills 339,000 people a year, mostly in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, researchers estimate. In addition, other studies document up to a tenfold increase in asthma attacks, emergency-room visits, and hospital admissions when smoke blankets places where people live

Around the world, billions of people are finding that the air carries a dangerous dose of smoke as wildfires become bigger and more intense...

Reasons for the trend toward bigger and more damaging fires vary, but the shifting relationship between people and the planet is a primary culprit...

Climate change also is worsening exposure to wildfire smoke. In 2011, the National Research Council estimated that for each 1.8 degree F (1 degree C) rise in global temperature, the number of acres burned in the western U.S. could increase by 200 to 400 percent