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World Wildfires


THE PERFECT THERMAL RUNAWAY

AUGUST 9, 2018
When I first read of global warming some 12 years ago the story told of the warming melting the tundra which would give off methane which is about 30 times as strong a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide. In engineering this is a self-reinforcing or "positive feedback" process. It can be extremely dangerous. The term thermal-runaway came from the first transistors which were made out of germanium rather than silicon and were prone to melting themselves in a fraction of a second if not used properly.

IN A WILDFIRE THE BURNING ADDS additional carbon into the air which makes the air warm faster because the greenhouse effect is stronger and accelerates the drying of the forest which then burns more readiy. Additionally the fire has destroyed trees which are the principle way nature removes carbon dioxide from the air. So you get a double whammy when you least need one. One result is the largest wildfire in California history.

Above: wildfire locations around the world. Below: recent California wildfires.

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