California Wildfires Don’t Have to be the New Normal

To call them devastating is an understatement.
There have been 8,771 wildfires recorded in Northern and Southern California this year, so far, burning an equivalent of 3,346 square miles. The economic costs, increasing by the day, are now over $13 billion, a figure that will double once the bills from SoCal come in.
The greatest costs are the human ones, especially the loss of human life.
There are, of course, certain characteristics about California that make wildfires more probable there than would be the case in South Dakota, but none of them mean that annual wildfires are inevitable. And yet, that is the message we receive from the life-is-hard-therefore-we-need-government crowd.
Consider this excerpt from the Los Angeles Times story:
So how did the Thomas fire become such a monster? Heavy winds are one factor. But another is the thick brush that has not burned in decades, providing fuel.
‘The fuels in there are thick and they’re dead, so they’re very receptive to fire,’ said Steve Swindle, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.
The fuel can spread the fire even when winds die down.
‘Since it’s so dry out there, it doesn’t take much in the way of winds to create those critical fire weather conditions,’ said Robbie Munroe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. We’ll see wind gusts in that … area between 20 and 35 mph, maybe a few mountain sites might see up to about 40, but that’s the most we’re expecting right now.’

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on December 18, 2017.


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