Environmental Health

Prevent catastrophic wildfires to save lives and start reforestation

Surmountable Environmental Issues
May 4, 2022
4 min read
Wildfires affect far more than local residents / iStock

Issue 16 • Week of May 1, 2022 / Updated February 7, 2024

A much-needed addition to our national calendars in 2014 was the first ever Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, which Surmountable joins in advocating this May 7.

Citizens around the world will never forget the apocalyptic imagery from Australia wildfires in 2020 but regions of the US are also starting to burn beyond our control. Even though wildfires are thought of a west coast issue, they should be everyone's concern. Denver experienced the worst air quality in the world last August as scientists discovered that 3/4 of US deaths and hospitalizations from wildfire smoke actually occur east of the Rocky Mountains. Climate change models also predict a 30% increase in area burned in the southeast by lightning over the next 40 years.

There is even a movement to rename wildfires, since 85% are manmade. Perhaps we should simply go back to the phrase "forest fires" as popularized by Smokey the Bear in 1944.

Either way, their devastation has long-term consequences. Fires destroy property, emit carcinogenic smoke that contributes to air pollution, reduce biodiversity, and also consume forests that are among the world's best methods to fight climate change.

How can we prevent such tragedies in the future?

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