Scientists Reveal New Explanation For Why Latin America Is On Fire

(Photo by Javier TORRES / AFP) (Photo by JAVIER TORRES/AFP via Getty Images)

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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More than 130 people have died in Chile in 2024 as wildfires sweep up and down the Latin American continent, and scientists are no longer convinced climate change is entirely to blame. But they certainly aren’t blaming anything else.

A series of enormous fires erupted throughout Chile since the start of 2024, following wildfires that seemed to defy nature near Bogota, Colombia in January, according to an article published in Nature. In Argentina, wildfires destroyed a United Nations World Heritage Site, adding to ongoing destruction by out-of-control fires throughout the Amazon and surrounding continent.

But wildfires are not a normal part of Latin America’s landscape and natural history in the same way they are to North America. And while some fires have started via lightning strikes, scientists are blaming the most recent spate on 2023’s strong El Nino, non-native trees and climate change, Nature noted.

“We are very worried, because each new fire is bigger, more threatening and with an ever-greater impact,”  University of Concepción environmental scientist Francisco de la Barrera told the outlet. (RELATED: Drought Reveals Ancient Petroglyphs For The Second Time In History)

Cities are edging ever-close to the natural landscape of Latin America, making it easier for fire to jump from trees to buildings. There’s a limit to preventative actions to mitigate the spread, such as setting up firebreaks. But here’s the weird thing: Though Nature details how human development is one of the reasons these wildfires are getting worse, the outlet doesn’t say how the fires are actually started. It seems like the plan is to figure out the best ways to deal with this problem without actually looking at the root cause.

And no, climate change literally cannot start a wildfire because it is a bit of an abstract noun, not a physical thing capable of lighting fires. To start a wildfire, you need a spark. Unless you know where that spark comes from, your efforts are useless. So why, oh why, aren’t so-called environmental leaders and activists focusing on stopping the spark? I’ll wait for an answer … which I doubt will ever arrive.