If you are concerned about how climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of wildfires and the resulting threats to life and property at the wildland urban interface, here is something you can do about it:
Become a Volunteer Wildland Firefighter
According to the Wildland Fire Science and Technology Task Force Final Report released in November of 2015:
“Statistics show that in nearly every area of the country – particularly in the western United States – the number of large, intense wildland fires has increased in recent years. Over the past decade, every Western state has experienced a rise in the number of large wildfires per year compared to the annual average from 1980 to 2000. Also, the average length of the fire season has been increasing. Comparing the period 1970 to 1986 with 1987 to 2003, the average season length increased 78 days. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), nearly 68,000 wildfires burned over 9.3 million acres in 2012, making that year the third-highest in terms of the numbers of acres burned since national wildfire statistics began to be kept in 1960. Property damage at the wildland-urban interface (WUI) has reached into the billions of dollars with more damage expected as more housing development is expected to occur in the WUI.”
“The recent historical trend of more frequently occurring, large wildfires is predicted to continue into the future as climate change causes temperatures to rise further and droughts to become more severe in the coming decades, particularly in the western United States. The changing climate is driving up springtime temperatures and advancing the timing of snowmelt, vegetation green-up, and lengthening the duration of the fire season. These changes in fire seasonality increase the volumes of dry vegetation that can accumulate and hence the probability of larger fires. At the same time, higher temperatures influence drought frequency, magnitude, and extent, and induce stress on vegetation and, hence, the susceptibility of vegetation to insects and disease. Changes in thunderstorm and lightning patterns can also increase ignition rates depending on time of year, areas of country affected by drought, and other factors.”
“While no single wildfire can be said to be caused by climate change, impacts of the changing climate contribute to longer fire seasons with more large fires in the United States. According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s most recent National Climate Assessment, hotter and drier weather and an earlier snowmelt mean that wildfires in the west start earlier in the spring and last later into the fall. Since official recordkeeping began, the eight years with the largest area burned by wildfires in the United States have all occurred in the last 15 years.”
Think Global. Act Local. Join the Big Bend Valley Volunteer Wildland Firefighters!