How Climate Change Impacts Forest Fires
January 22, 2014 | 12:51 pm CST

How Climate Change Impacts Forest FiresWondering why we're having all these huge forest fires out in the western United States in recent years? Has Smokey Bear retired?

Actually, Smokey did his job too well. And in combination with the recent long, warm summers, fires, BIG fires, are the result, as Matt Hurteau, Penn State scientist and director of the Earth Systems Ecology Lab here in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, explains. And the possibility is that these fires could get worse in coming years.

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Which is why I say, let's cut more timber while the cutting is good! Well-managed timber stands are far less likely to be consumed by fire than unharvested, fire-suppressed wilderness. Furthermore, living, working forests are more likely to meet societal needs than fire-ravaged wilderness. And the recurrent regeneration of the harvested forests will help reduce local climatic variation and dampen global climate change as the young saplings soak up all that bad carbon dioxide out there.

Let's make wood.

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