The devastating fires burning in California are a vivid reminder of the urgent need to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. In 2018, California has set records for the largest wildfire and the deadliest wildfire on record, the latter being the still-burning Camp Fire near the town of Paradise. At least 79 people have died in that fire, and 699 people are unaccounted for.
Although people are appropriately focused on the human toll of these fires, massive wildfires also destroy habitat, degrade water quality and pollute the air. This suggests an opportunity to avoid the usual gridlock that arises for environmental issues. We all have something to gain from healthier forests and safer communities.
Why have wildfires gotten worse? Undoubtedly, climate has played a role; California has experienced persistently dry conditions because of recurring droughts. But government mismanagement has played an equally big role.
Read the entire piece in the Hill.