wildfires


New Forest Service Report Tallies the Steeply Rising Costs of Fighting Wildfires

, lead economist and climate policy manager

We’re in peak fire season and, sadly, early predictions for a high-risk season are coming true. The National Interagency Fire Center’s predictions for August show continuing above normal fire risks for the western U.S. and Alaska. Today the Forest Service released a new report showing that firefighting costs now consume over 50 percent of their annual budget, and could get up to two thirds of their budget by 2025, up from 16 percent a decade ago. The good news is that there are multiple bipartisan efforts underway in Congress to deliver a fix for the budget woes outlined in the report. Now we just need to see strong legislation enacted. Read more >

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Fire Borrowing, the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, and an Opportunity for Bipartisan Action

, lead economist and climate policy manager

Perhaps it seems strange to be writing about wildfires in February, even as the Boston area (where I live) has just experienced its snowiest week on record. But it’s during the “off-season” that we have the opportunity to take stock of the causes and costs of past wildfires and take steps to better prepare and protect communities for future ones. Unfortunately, in some parts of the country like California there is no “off-season” as they face the threat of year-round fire seasons. Read more >

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World Heritage Sites Among Many Cultural Resources Threatened by Climate Change

, deputy director, Climate & Energy Program

The last time I attended a World Parks Congress, 20 years ago in Venezuela, there was scarcely a mention of climate change. Back then, it was seen by conservationists as largely a problem they would have to deal with in the future. Well I’m sorry to say that the future is here, and so are the consequences of climate change. Read more >

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Warming Trends in the Pacific Northwest Are Not Due to Natural Variability

, scientist and Kendall Science Fellow

During the past several weeks, my phone weather alert has repeatedly shown Corvallis and Portland, Oregon, having fire and low humidity alerts. I did my postdoc there and remember the smell of burning woods during August and September. There have been record-setting wildfires this year in the Pacific Northwest and climate scientists argue that climate change is likely to make it worse due to increasing temperatures. Read more >

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“Catastrophic” Fire Conditions Arrive Early in Australia, Mirror the 2013 U.S. Wildfire Season

, climate scientist

My parents are almost 80 years old and live in Sydney, the place where they were born and raised. Yesterday I phoned them to ask for news of bush fires that are raging just beyond the western edge of the city. As they described the pall of dark smoke that has covered the city of over four million people, I thought of my childhood summers. We knew there would be searing temperatures and days of “total fire bans” when not even backyard barbeques were allowed. But I remember those days being during my summer vacations – that is, in December and January. Now they are happening in October, in springtime. Read more >

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