Over the past 15 to 20 years, there has been a noticeable uptick in wildfires globally. Just here in the United States, it seems fire season has become a year-round thing. The Australian wildfires of 2019-2020 burned over 46 million acres and were declared one of the world’s worst wildlife disasters in modern history. In 2018 the Attica fire of Greece claimed the life of 102 people, making it the second most deadly wildfire of the 21st century.
Climate Change and Wildfires
Climate change has had a massive impact on the number of wildfires we see worldwide. These fires are more prevalent in areas experiencing drought and dry conditions brought on by climate change. The drought conditions dry the organic material in the forest to a point to favor fire conditions, then all that is needed is an event that creates dry lightning or high winds down a powerline in dry brush. The next thing that happens is millions of acres burn, wildlife is displaced or killed, and people have lost their homes and potentially their lives.
Living with Climate Change and The Wildfire Threat
Until a substantial effort worldwide is put into combating climate change, it seems the wildfire threat will continue. This manageable threat will result in higher insurance and building cost for everyone. The following points should be considered when living in a world plagued by wildfire threats.
- Discouraging developments (especially residential) near fire-prone forests through smart zoning rules.
- Increasing the space between structures and nearby trees and brush, and clearing space between neighboring houses
- Incorporating fire-resistant design features and materials in building
- Increasing resources allocated to firefighting and fire prevention.
- Removing fuels, such as dead trees, from forests that are at risk.
- Developing recovery plans before a fire hits and implementing plans quickly after a fire to reduce erosion, limit flooding, and minimize habitat damage.
A Call to Address the Issue
We as citizens need to take climate change and wildfire threats seriously. We may say to ourselves, “It’s not affecting the area we live in.” Yet it is or soon will be with rising insurance costs and taxes to combat the issue. Also, you never know when the weather may shift, and the area you reside in will experience a long-term drought and become a tinder box ready to ignite. We should hold our elected officials’ feet to the fire and tell them we want the climate issues in our world addressed. This is an issue that will eventually affect us all and making our planet a livable place for all is everyone’s responsibility.