Hurricanes and Wildfires

Simon Donner observes the hurricane-wildfire link:

Has the epidemic of wildfires reached the point that we need to talk about the summer fire season the way we talk about the hurricane season? Should we be as concerned, or maybe even more concerned, about the migration to the edge of the national forests as the migration of people to the coasts in the southeast?

I believe the question was rhetorical, but the answer is “yes.” Wildfire is another issue, like hurricanes, that has been used to argue for greenhouse gas reductions. To the extent there’s a climate change-wildfire link (see here and here), perhaps building more houses in the woods needs to be part of the policy response discussion.


  1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that experts and reporters both have been talking about the dangers of houses in woods (the wildlands-urban interface) for approximately forever. Example: the Sierra in CA, such as Lake Tahoe.

    I’m with Gerald Meehl of NCAR: it’s not a matter of adaptation or mitigation. We need both.

    If as a public and a government we do nothing, what that means in practice is that we leave it up to the insurance companies to do it for us. Probably not the best of all choices.

  2. Friends of mine are building an off-grid house upriver from Wenatchee. They called me this past weekend to describe the firefighting efforts against a ~2200 ac fire threatening over 200 houses about 7000 feet away across the river valley.

    Until we get both population and wealth (allowing second homes in the WUI) under control, things will get worse before they get better. The fuel buildup over the past century in forests that we prefer isn’t close to being corrected.



  3. Wait, months ago some lawyer from one of the libertarian websites came to RC and proved logically that just because the math indicated there would be more force 3 and force 4 hurricanes, nobody could say there would be any more force 5 hurricanes. I asked him, did that mean that because we had conditions favoring more large wildfires, and more superlarge wildfires, there was no basis for saying we might also get more gigantic wildfires. He went away and never came back.

    Doesn’t that prove there can’t be more gigantic wildfires? Or did I miss something in the logic of the presentation?

    Maybe the free market doesn’t _do_ wildfires?

    But seriously — yeah, it’s happening already. Clueless senior revered lawyer didn’t get the point that a heat engine is a heat engine, and when you increase the efficiency, that’s going to change all the outputs.

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