#1: Wildfires are getting worse I mean, did policymakers, did, you know, local leaders - did they see this coming this year? He said the flames were getting closer. Alaska’s record-breaking heat and dry conditions over the summer months set the conditions for the state’s historic wildfire season. More than 3 million acres have burned in California this year. Climate change has been a key factor in increasing the risk and extent of wildfires in the Western United States. In 2019, wildfires caused an estimated $4.5 billion in damages in California and Alaska. MARTIN: This is a big question, but it's really the most important. Climate-change-related declines in western spring snowpack, and increased evaporation from higher … MILLER: So if you think about those numbers, that means lots of people have moved into what we call the wildland-urban interface, which is awful. That's almost double what burns in an average fire season. But even they may find it harder to rebound amid the mounting impacts of climate change. We're also driving the destruction that we're now seeing because we've moved into areas that historically have burned. At least four people have been killed so far in the state. Once a fire starts—more than 80 percent of U.S. wildfires are caused by people—warmer temperatures and drier conditions can help fires spread and make them harder to put out. Human-induced climate change promotes the conditions on which wildfires depend, increasing their likelihood -- according to a review of research on global climate change and wildfire … Do the fires represent a real threat there? And then beyond that, you kind of just accept it for what it is. He's the director of environmental analysis at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. And he has spent a long time studying wildfires. Removing fuels, such as dead trees, from forests that are at risk. MARTIN: Now let's go to Oregon, where the wildfires have now forced about 500,000 people from their homes. Since 2000, 14 forest fires in the United States have caused at least $1 billion in damages each, mainly from the loss of homes and infrastructure, along with firefighting costs. The 2017 wildfire season was well above average, with deadly fires in California and throughout the West, including Montana, Oregon, and Washington state. So what is driving all these explosive wildfires, and how much does climate change factor into it? MARTIN: Right. The risk of wildfire is expected to grow across the United States due to reduced precipitation in some regions, and higher temperatures caused by climate change. Climate change can affect the winds that drive fires Multiple experts pointed out that the fires in California are fanned by seasonal strong, dry winds … Not only is the average wildfire season three and a half months longer than it was a few decades back, but the number of annual large fires in the West has tripled — burning twice as many acres. It tells us a great deal about the next decade and beyond. Voters are making climate action a growing priority because they understand that global warming is a force multiplier. In turn, wildfires are aggravating climate change by killing trees that could absorb carbon in the atmosphere. (SOUNDBITE OF SLEEP DEALER'S "THE WAY HOME"). This fact sheet overviews strategies …, View Details A friend outside San Francisco told me it feels like the apocalypse. This graphic from the Fourth National Climate Assessment shows the growth in large wildfires throughout the West. California How climate change is fueling record-breaking California wildfires, heat and smog Smoke and haze from wildfires hovered Thursday … And he just looked exhausted. ARMANDO MENDOZA: I got caught in a fire. Oregon Public Broadcasting's Jonathan Levinson has been covering the fires. It's called Cressman's. California Gov. LEVINSON: Well, some cities in northwest - in the northwest part of Clackamas County are - they're really Portland suburbs in places, and a lot of people commute into the city from some of the smaller towns in Clackamas County. That is totally unheard of, which means you can't really evacuate. LEVINSON: And so to give you an idea of how fast things are changing, while I was there talking to people, the evacuation zone actually shifted, and the shelter was suddenly elevated to a Level 2, which means prepare to leave. MARTIN: Char Miller - he is the director of environmental analysis at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. People are living under orange skies amid ashes. I spoke to Nancy Price (ph). MILLER: Yeah. Climate change causes forest fuels (the organic matter that burns and spreads wildfire) to be more dry, and has doubled the number of large fires between 1984 and 2015 in the western United States. Alex Hall, a reporter with our member station KQED, was driving through dense smoke that hung over Highway 168 near Shaver Lake. The Essentials. Let's just call it the fire zone. But, you know, same as property damage, fires are still spreading, and they just don't know the extent of the loss yet. We don't know. It has a lot of history. I got caught in the middle of the Bear Fire. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record. The effects have been painfully felt. For some, it can seem like the world is on fire. More than 10% of Oregon's residents have evacuated. This …, View Details We know that they're fire zones, and yet we keep building in them. That's the thing I dread the most - is not knowing. And immediately, my throat and nose could smell the woodsmoke. That seems to be the state of mind that I found most of the people I've interviewed so far. The number of heatwaves observed in 2011 and 2012 were triple the long-term average, and require planning for economic, health and …, View Details They don't know what they're going back to. But what that changing climate is doing while it's drying out this region is also producing the kind of energy - literally fire energy - that we're watching every single moment. And we used to call it the new normal, but I don't think it's new any longer. You know, the photographs - and I've taken my share of this dystopic imagery - we call that summer, right? Download (pdf, 1 MB), Across the United States, the risk of drought is expected to grow due to reduced precipitation and higher temperatures caused by climate change. One of the fires up in the Central Sierra moved 15 miles in an afternoon. MARTIN: Armando Mendoza (ph) was visiting family in Oroville in Northern California when strong winds sent flames racing towards town. By raising temperatures, melting snow sooner, and drying soils and forests, climate change is fueling the problem. In other words, though climate change does not cause the heat waves or fires, it sets the stage so that when conditions are ripe, like the summer and fall of … Although wildfires occur naturally and play a long-term role in the health of these ecosystems, climate change threatens to increase the frequency, extent, and severity of fires through increased temperatures and drought (see the U.S. and Global Temperature and Drought indicators). And yet, the size of it and the speed with which these fires are moving - that's the other thing that's just really mind-blowing. MARTIN: I mean, can you explain - you mentioned climate change as a driver... MARTIN: ...Here. Increasing the space between structures and nearby trees and brush, and clearing space between neighboring houses. And so policy doesn't change that rapidly. So we've got heavy winds. It's a mix of rural and suburban communities. There is a strong connection between climate change and wildfires. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information. The 2018 wildfire season went on to also break records as the deadliest and most destructive season on record in California. INSKEEP: So both his business and his home were destroyed. Can you tell us what you have seen as you've been out reporting? Wildfires and Climate Change: California’s Energy Future Executive Summary asu Climate change has created a new wildfire reality for California. Portland Fire and Rescue spokesperson said that right now, there's no danger to the city. Something worse is unfolding across the West. New research documents how a warming climate contributes to patterns in wildfire severity and frequency and how the fires contribute to climate change. MARTIN: What about Portland itself, where you are? They're on motorcycles. The rise in average global temperatures has led to higher spring and summer temperatures, and importantly an earlier onset of spring. NPR's Rachel Martin talks to Char Miller, Director of Environmental Analysis at Pomona College about the the fires and climate change. But as a result, then, I mean, have people been able to predict this? And we can tie lots of this to changing climate, of course. INSKEEP: Two hundred eighty miles south of there, near Fresno, California's Creek Fire grew to more than 175,000 acres on Thursday. 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