How Europe turned into a perfect landscape for wildfires
By Somini Sengupta
In 2019, intense heat and drought helped spread fires across roughly 1,300 square miles on the Continent, a swath of scorched land 15 percent bigger than the decade’s annual average, according to preliminary data issued in mid-January by the European Forest Fire Information System.
In Europe last year, wildfires raged as far north as Sweden. Drought and beetle infestations killed swaths of forests in Germany, prompting a debate over what trees to plant in their place. Britain had more wildfires last year than ever before on record. Spain saw one of the sharpest increases in the number of individual fires. The European Union described forest fires as “a serious and increasing threat.”
The only way to keep the woods from becoming dry brush by the time his two children are grown, he said, is to manage the landscape. He can see what climate change has already wrought on the hills he has lived in his whole life. The seasons are unpredictable. The heat and high winds are like nothing he has seen before.