“Global warming can explain part of this trend,” Dr. Staudt said, “because it is feeding longer fire seasons, drier conditions, and more lightning. According to recent studies, the fire season stretches about 78 days longer and individual fires last about 30 days longer.”
"Increased Risk of Catastrophic Wildfires: Global Warming’s Wake-Up Call for the Western United States" details how:• Global Warming Makes Forests More Susceptible to Fire
The increase in big wildfires comes with increased losses and escalating costs to fight these fires. Property losses from wildfires have averaged more than $1 billion over the past decade. Annual federal government expenditures on fire fighting in 2007 were $3 billion, up from about $1 billion in 1999, and typically less than half that for the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s. The U.S. Forest Service now spends 45 percent of its annual budget on fire prevention and suppression, up from 20 percent in 2000.
Today’s new era of more frequent and intense fires demands new approaches to managing our forests and fire risk. “We must get at the root of the problem and reduce the global warming pollution that fuels more frequent and severe fires,” Dr. Staudt said. At the same time, it is critical to return our forests to more natural conditions and fire-cycles, step up protections for people and properties, and prepare to jumpstart new forest growth.
National Wildlife Federation is America's conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.
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