Stupid and Deadly: America’s Wildfire Policy

Stupid and Deadly: America's Wildfire Policy

Forest policy, climate change, and real estate development combine to create deadly fires.

“Today’s monster fires result largely from three human forces: taxpayer-funded fire suppression that has made the forest a tinderbox; policies that encourage construction in places that are clearly prone to burning; and climate change, which has worsened everything.”

“Society masks the costs of building on the edges of the forest, a zone that planners call the “wildland-urban interface,” or the WUI. With its vast forests and penchant for sprawl, California is the epicenter of WUI wildfire damage. Between 2000 and 2013, fire destroyed more buildings in California’s WUI than in all similar areas in the United States combined, and more than 75 percent of all buildings destroyed by fire in California were in the WUI, according to a University of Wisconsin–Madison study.”

— “Burn. Build. Repeat: Why Our Wildfire Policy Is So Deadly.” Jeffrey Ball, Mother Jones


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Top image (“Smokey Says ‘Let It Burn’”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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