From The Hill, September 25, 2020
Catastrophic wildfires have brought orange skies and devastation to the Western U.S. The exceptional fires of 2020 are the latest in a string of extreme fire years, costing California alone tens of billions per year and far too many lives. At the same time millions of workers have been shoved into the virtual unemployment line by the pandemic.
While the daunting nature of climate change and intensification of wildfires can cause us to feel helpless, there are pathways forward. A new Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) could stimulate the economy, provide work to unemployed and underemployed folks and help significantly reduce wildfire damages in the Western U.S. The best part? There’s bipartisan support for the revival of the CCC. Recent polling finds 75 percent of likely voters support a new CCC, including 74 percent of Republicans. Support like this is hard to come by in the era of polarization, especially on environmental issues.
The fires ravaging the west are being driven both by hotter and drier conditions caused by a changing climate and by a legacy of poor forest management. Human emissions of greenhouse gases have increased spring and summer temperatures by around 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Western U.S. over the past century. This has extended both the area and time periods in which forests burn; in parts of California, fire season is now 50 days longer. In fact, the recent Fourth National Climate Assessment suggested that about half the increase in burned area in the Western U.S. since the 1980s can be attributed to changing climate conditions.
Read the entire article here.