Worsening Forest Fires Tied to Climate Change
Interview with Michael Kodas, a Tedd Scripps fellow in environmental journalism, at the University of Colorado, conducted by Melinda Tuhus
As California and other Western states cope with larger and more frequent forest fires, such as the Station Fire outside Los Angeles that has consumed hundreds of square miles, experts in the field are paying closer attention to the link between forest fires and global warming. In the last three decades, the wildfire season in the western U.S. has increased by 78 days, and burn durations of large fires have increased five-fold, to 37 days.
This is occurring at the same time that temperatures have increased over one degree Fahrenheit. Since 2000, wildland fires in the United States have burned an average of more than seven million acres a year, about double the average acreage for the previous four decades.
Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Michael Kodas, a former reporter and photographer with the Hartford Courant who spent the 2003 fire season battling blazes in Colorado and Wyoming in order to write a news article about the experience. He is currently a Ted Scripps fellow in environmental journalism at the University of Colorado, looking at the relationship between forest fires and climate change. Kodas discusses various ways in which climate change has increased the danger of forest fires, from drought to the changed behavior of insects, as well as the human element in the equation.
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