Worsening Western Wildfires
Human-caused climate change is adding to the heaping tinderbox of wildfire risk. Warmer temperatures and worsening drought make for more dry vegetation, elevating the risk of a fire igniting and the fire spreading.
The West has warmed nearly two degrees on average since the 1980s, while the number of acres burned by wildfires has exploded. In California, over 12 million acres have burned between 1980 and 2019, which is more than any other western state included in our analysis.
The increasing size of wildfires coupled with more people and homes at risk also puts a strain on emergency services. Even hundreds of miles from a blaze, smoke waves from wildfires can endanger public health 一 particularly among at-risk populations, including people with chronic health conditions and outdoor laborers like farm workers.