As of early October, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, 8.4 million acres have burned across the United States this year.
We are all still acting like these are unavoidable, natural tragedies.
That isn’t the case. While I risk sounding like Smokey the Bear, it should be pretty obvious that things have not always been this way.
Let’s to get out of the way: yes, wildfires start on their own all the time due to lightning. In places with smaller populations, it is in fact the primary way large forest fires start.
However, in places with high populations such as California, people cause more fires than lightning strikes.
Funding for fighting fires’ disorganization would be comical, were it not such a serious issue.
The service must move more funds from other operating accounts to fight fire. It’s a practice called “fire borrowing.”
Ironically, fire borrowing depletes accounts for forest management that reduce wildfire if scientifically based forest management practices were implemented.
It creates a continuous downward spiral of fires causing ever worse forest management, which causes more, larger fires. Therefore, these fires are man-made.
So if you take anything from this, take this: forest fires are sometimes caused, and always worsened by the passive attitude that we as individuals take toward fire safety.
Taylor Tomaszewski is a business economics major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.