In today’s Washington Post there is a compelling article titled West Coast Girds for Record Forest Fires. Whatever the causes of the drought may be, the implications for fire fighting are significant and wide ranging. Some excerpts follow:
Across the Western United States, officials tasked with fighting forest fires worry that a confluence of factors, including climate change and human development, are conspiring to create conditions ripe for a landmark fire year. That would mean hotter fires that burn longer and threaten more homes, sapping already-strained budgets and putting at risk the lives of thousands of firefighters. * * *
The consequences of climate change encourage wildfires in three ways, firefighters and policymakers say. First, even modest rises in temperatures change forest ecologies and allow invasive species to take root. Second, changing weather patterns can stem much-needed precipitation. And third, global warming is extending the fire season. * * *
In parts of California, the cost of defending a single home can run as high as $600,000 — far more than many of the homes are actually worth. And while homeowners are able to get out before a fire sweeps over them, the firefighters who have to defend those homes wade into danger.
A truly scary article comes from the National Geographic. It is titled Could California’s Drought Last 200 Years? Clues from the past suggest the ocean’s temperature may be a driver.