The other day for the first time I heard about something called a “fire tornado.” It’s just what it sounds like, and they’ve happened in California and Australia.
Here is a nutshell explanation. And here’s an article about the first-ever one sighted, back in 2003 in Australia. And if you want to see what one looks like, just google images for “fire tornado.” From the number of images, apparently they are not as “rare” as they used to be.
I’m not prone to fire-and-brimstone preaching, but if I were a fire-and-brimstone preacher for climate awareness, I’d surely invoke fire tornadoes as an image.
Here is footage of one forming.
• “In the West, Lightning Grows as a Cause of Damaging Fires” (John Schwartz and Veronica Penney, NYTimes.com). “Warmer temperatures and drought are expected to reach other parts of the country as warming continues. Recent research suggests that combinations of extreme heat and drought that could make lush forests more prone to fire are occurring together more frequently — not just in the American West, but also in the Northeastern and Southeastern United States, as well. As Craig Allen, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, put it, wildfire could be ‘coming soon to a landscape near you. Wherever you are.'” (This is why I emphasize residential landscaping choices so much on this blog. Re-vegetate landscapes and turn the soil back from sieve or cement to water-absorbing sponge; it’ll help repair the hydrological cycle. This is a key leverage point accessible to everyday people.)
• “After the Fires” (Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee, tabletmag.com). “[W]hen you experience a month under wildfire evacuation warning, with a few bags packed, somehow you are reduced to essentials, to the values that support you rather than the possessions that burden you. … Both the pandemic and the wildfires were caused by an imbalance in nature, the pandemic by wildlife habitat destruction, the wildfires by unseasonable dry lightning and warmer, dryer conditions making the land combust. The most basic question is how to return to a place of balance … Will we have to wait centuries before a new civilization is born from the ashes, one that is not built upon violence against nature, extraction, and pollution, but once again recognizes the earth as an organic, interdependent living being to which we belong?” “Will this moment’s challenges—and those unknown still to come—help our civilization move past an obsession with material prosperity?”