The inevitable collision of wildfires and COVID-19 keeps me up at night. Not in an abstract sense, but more in a requires-allergy-meds-to-sleep type of way. Too many people are suffering already due to COVID-19, and the quickly approaching wildfire season, worsened by climate change, is going to make things so much worse. Sadly, we’re already seeing these intersections play out in real time in Florida, where fires are causing evacuation orders across the Panhandle. Read more >
May 11, 2020 2:06 PM EDT
November 25, 2019 10:10 AM EDT
We live in a time of extremes. Our daily news cycle is replete with extreme language, extreme corruption, and extreme threats. It’s easy to become numb, a self-defense mechanism, and equate these extremes with normal. I sometimes find myself falling victim to this mentality, and quickly snap out of it.
Before this barrage of daily extremes I had a much more benign, Earthly connection with the concept of ‘extreme’. I’m a scientist who studies our northern forests, boreal forests. I’ve always been fascinated by the ability of boreal trees, animals, and other organisms to thrive in such extreme conditions. After flying north and setting foot in a dense, mossy boreal forest, the extreme is palpable. Read more >
April 16, 2019 1:25 PM EDT
As California’s electric utilities grapple with the aftermath of record-breaking wildfires, the potential impact on customer bills is starting to come into focus. While it is still unclear who will end up paying for wildfire damages, one thing is clear: extreme wildfires are here to stay, and they will likely keep getting worse. With climate change increasing not only the risk of wildfires, but also threatening many other economic and human health impacts, the costs of preventing extreme climate change pale in comparison to the costs of inaction. Read more >
August 8, 2018 1:08 PM EDT
California is burning (again). As a climate scientist living in California, the state’s wildfires over the past few years, while startling, have not been particularly surprising. This is, after all, what scientists have been predicting for a very long time. But there’s a profound difference between being clear-headed and understanding of predictions and feeling existential nausea because this is the reality we have created for ourselves and our children. Read more >
October 17, 2017 3:56 PM EDT
In the midst of the catastrophic wildfires of Northern California that have claimed 41 lives and either destroyed or damaged more than 5,700 buildings, I wanted to know where the cutting edge of science on this issue is today. What made the California wildfires so strong and unusually destructive? Regardless of what started the fires, what conditions allowed the fires to spread so quickly? Did climate change have anything to do with it? What are scientists currently working on that can help communities better prepare for wildfires?