Why U.S. Wildfires Are Bigger, Hotter And More Frequent

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 - 8:49am
Updated: Saturday, October 21, 2017 - 9:15am
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(Photo courtesy of inciweb.nwcg.gov)
The Boundary Fire.

Bigger, hotter wildfires — and more of them — are becoming the new normal, and a combination of climate change, subpar fire management and budget limitations are to blame.

With 8.5 million acres burned so far, 2017 could prove a major year for U.S. wildfires. And it’s only going to get worse, as climate change continues to intensify warming and drying trends, says an October 2017 National Wildlife Federation report.

Steve Pyne, a fire historian at Arizona State University, said we’ve known for years what to do, but lack an urgent social push — and the political will.

“People are interested in using fires — these recurring tragedies — to advance some other agenda, or to hold it hostage for some other purpose. And we’re not really getting serious about fires," said Pyne.

The report calls for addressing a massive forest restoration backlog and updating federal fire budgets standards.

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