Bloomberg Businessweek

Chronicle of a Fire Foretold

• Vast swaths of Australia are in flames—and the country’s plight has put a global focus on climate change

Do you believe in prophecy? More than a dozen years ago, in a report released in July 2007, it was written: “An increase in fire danger in Australia is likely to be associated with a reduced interval between fires, increased fire intensity, a decrease in fire extinguishments and faster fire spread. … In south-east Australia, the frequency of very high and extreme fire danger days is likely to rise 4-25% by 2020.” That forecast of a potential effect of the proliferation of greenhouse gases around the world comes about midway through 976 dense pages of scientific citations and assessments by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Given the countless other statistics and prognoses, you might be excused for overlooking the prediction when it was made.

It’s impossible to ignore what’s happening in Australia today: Bush fires have charred a combined area twice the size of Switzerland and are continuing to burn. The catastrophe is of Biblical proportions—the chariot of fire that swept Elijah into

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