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Climate Change Is Fueling Larger Wildfires In California

Skeez / Pixabay

A new study says a warming climate is increasingly driving many of California’s wildfires.

Wildfires are growing in size, and they could continue to grow exponentially over the next 40 years as temperatures rise in California. That’s according to a new study from Columbia University. Researchers found that the leading factor in larger wildfires has been an increase in temperature caused by climate change. That’s because higher temperatures create a landscape that allows fires to spread farther. Park Williams is one of the researchers. He says it would be hard to reverse the warming, and we need to instead focus on protecting communities.

"We need to look at the areas that are at highest risk," He says, "and either not be living in these areas or really improve our ability to get people out of the way. Because increases in fire, I say, are inevitable.

He explains one of the main reasons climate change is having such a big effect is because Wildfires largely have not been allowed to naturally take place in the past century. This has led to an extremely fire-prone environment. Despite the increasing risk of wildfires, there are still opportunities to protect communities. Williams says that controlled burns done strategically around these communities can help mitigate the effects of fires in the future.