Wildfires Are The Biggest “Natural” Threat (Not Hurricanes)


Wildfires, not hurricanes are the biggest “natural” threat

Bottom Line:We’re currently experiencing one of the most active hurricane seasons in recorded history. While much is made about our role in potentially contributing to more and stronger storms, there’s one type of environmental disaster which has proven to be far more devastating than hurricanes and is almost completely man made. Fires. That’s even true of Florida – which is considered the most at risk to hurricanes in the country. Consider this...

According to the National Interagency Fire Center:

  • 64,100 wildfires occur annually in the US

And how many are the direct result of people?

  • 62,200

Fires continue to provide a greater threat to Americans than even a potentially record setting Atlantic Hurricane season and it’s a given that our influence with them is far greater than even Al Gore’s wildest estimates for tropical activity. According to a study by the University of Colorado 97% of all wildfires since 1992 are the direct result of people. Additionally, 59 million homes are at risk of wildfires in the US – that's equitable to those at risk of hurricanes. It’s interesting how much emphasis is placed on theoretical science regarding human impact when we’re discussing the tropics but how little is discussed when almost all wildfires are provably caused by humans – with California leading the way with wildfires. In fact, debris is the 2nd leading cause of wildfires. The reason why California wildfires have progressively been worse in recent years is in large part due to policy put in place in the early 2000’s preventing the removal of even dead trees on state land. That’s led to the proliferation of debris which catches fire.

Two types of natural disasters. One which is almost completely caused by us and is the most pervasive. Yet the most progressive state on environmental policy literally created policy which directly contributes to the biggest natural disaster threat this country faces. That’s irony for you. The more you know.

Photo by: Getty Images/ AFP

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