Nexus between wildfire, climate change and population growth in California

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Since the year 2000 California has experienced a remarkable upsurge in wildfires. Over five million hectares have burned in the last 20 years, which is double the area burned in the previous two decades. Much of this increase has been driven by large fires of more than 50,000 hectares that cause catastrophic losses of lives and property (Keeley and Syphard 2019). This increased fire activity has been correlated with an increase in average temperature over this same period, leading many observers to assert that global climate change must be playing a major role. Climate models forecast continued warming and thus some have suggested these catastrophic fires are the “new normal” or the “new abnormal” (Birnbaum 2018). In contrast, others have declared that these fires are the result of ‘forest mismanagement’ (Cranley 2018) and this has stimulated renewed interest in fuel reduction (Office of Governor 2019). It’s almost as though these opinions aren’t even in reference to the same fires, and as described below, there is some validity to this assertion.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Nexus between wildfire, climate change and population growth in California
Series title Fremontia
Volume 47
Issue 2
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher California Native Plant Society
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 10 p.
First page 4
Last page 13
Country United States
State California
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