The wild fires that forced more than a hundred thousand people to evacuate their homes this month in the Pinelands of North Florida are not unique; they are the latest in a wave of massive blazes around the world. Since last year, millions of acres have burned in Indonesia, Malaysia, Guatemala, Venezuela, Mexico, and Brazil. Changes in the world's weather, including the effects of El Niño, have been blamed for much of the incineration. To help us understand the connections between changes in the planet's climate and the epidemic of wildfires, Steve Curwood spoke with forest ecologist Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Center at his Massachusetts office, in between trips to the Amazon in Brazil. Dr. Nepstad has observed many forest fires in his career.
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