Since 1979, climate change is responsible for more than half of the dryness of Western forests and the increased length of the fire season, according to an article, “Climate Change Blamed for Half of Increased Forest Fire Danger,” in the New York Times.
This statistic comes from a new study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It explains that “the combination of a long period of drought in the West and hot temperatures have caused trees and undergrowth to become particularly tinderlike. Warmer air can draw more moisture, in general, from trees and plants, turning them into kindling.” Cyclical climate variations, which are also affected by patterns in the Pacific Ocean, and human-caused climate change together have caused the drying process to double.
“People tell me that they’ve never seen fires as active as what they’re battling right now,” Dr. A. Park Williams, one of the study’s authors, said, “What we’re seeing in (the) fire world is much different than what we saw in the 1980s, and in the 2030s, fires will be unrecognizable to what we’re seeing now.”
While humans can’t completely control climate change and its consequences, there are steps we can take to help us better prepare for the threat of wildfire. NFPA’s latest Firewise toolkit offers a homeowner’s checklist, steps to take during Red Flag Days, and so much more.
Additional resources like videos, tip sheets and project ideas for everyone of all ages can be found on the Firewise website. Materials are free and most are available to download and share with family, friends and neighbors.