Our Forests Need More Fire, Not Less

By Ben Goldfarb
The Atlantic
December 20, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

As the world has become hotter and drier, it has also become more flammable. …Considering all of this, one could be forgiven for assuming that forests are burning more frequently than ever. In fact, the opposite is true: The United States, like Australia and many other countries, is operating at a fire deficit. …The U.S., observes the journalist M. R. O’Connor in her important new book, Ignition, is “both burning and fire starved.” These conditions—the fire deficit and our susceptibility to megafires—are connected. …By routinely stamping out smaller, beneficial fires, land managers have inadvertently spawned gargantuan infernos that threaten lives and property. This, O’Connor writes, is the fire paradox: “Putting out fires contributes to the creation of even bigger blazes.” …But does humanity still have time to heal its broken relationship with fire? …It will also depend on people’s tolerance for smoke and risk. [to access the full story, a subscription to The Atlantic is required]

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