Why Big, Intense Wildfires Are the New Normal
Climate change, untamed vegetation, and development have created a new wildfire landscape.
The large wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park has already consumed more than 184,000 acres, and shows no signs of slowing down. The blaze, which has been dubbed “Rim Fire,” is now the largest fire in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and one of the largest in California’s history. (Related: “With Rim Fire Near, a Look at Yosemite’s History With Fire.”)
The Rim Fire is one of more than 30 blazes currently churning across the West. And a combination of higher temperatures, untamed underbrush, less rain, and more developments in the region means that the number and intensity of wildfires is likely to increase in the coming years, says Don Wuebbles, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois.
“This probably is the new normal,” he says.
When I walk around the game preserves in my area, I am stunned by the amount of dead and rotting material that is allowed to lie about. In the normal course of events these would be consumed by the occasional fire, but since those are put out, it just keeps piling up. But I almost never here comments on it from those great naturalist survival types.
Of course if you live in a desert, its not much of an issue.