Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Vox and Verge Science on California's year-round fire season

Two days ago, I mentioned Califoria's record heat and wildfires in 2018 on track to be fourth-warmest ever.  Yesterday, both became the subject of a video by Vox that asked Why is California always on fire?

Humans are making the problem worse. Can we get out of nature’s way, for our own good?
Wildfires are intensifying in California — but “wild”fires might be a misnomer at this point, because humans are responsible for why they’ve gotten so out of control. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that 84 percent of fires are started by humans. The Carr fire in northern California, for example, was sparked by the rim of car with a flat tire.

If you look at where California’s population is growing and getting denser, you’ll see that more and more people are building in areas that are at risk, increasing the potential for costly destruction — 2017 was the most expensive year on record, topping $10 billion in damages.

Since we drastically exacerbated this problem, can we swing it back the other way? The impact of man-made climate change is unlikely to reverse. And people continue to build in dangerous areas, with no sign of stopping. By 2050, there could be over 640,000 new homes built in the path of wildfires.
All that explains why and how California's brush and forest fires have become so intense and damaging.  It does not explain why the fire season, which went from August to October when I was growing up in Los Angeles, extended from April to January in 2014 and now seems to last all year long.  I blamed climate change in 2013 when the season went from May to January.  So does Verge Science in Why wildfire season never stops.

In the Western United States, “fire season” isn’t seasonal anymore — it’s year-round. Because more and more, wildfires are a thoroughly man-made disaster and are technically a misnomer. Here, we take a car and drone tour through some of the most fire-prone parts of California, and see firsthand the causes and effects of “fire season” that just keep getting worse and worse.
It's time to revive a line I first wrote in 2013 and used most recently in 2017, welcome to the 400 ppm world.

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