Future #1: Hot, Dry, and Out of Control

Global Climate Shift, Fuels, and Humans

The trend has been a gradual shift or multiple variables gradually changing over time, but the climate and what we view in our surroundings work like a balanced beam. Everything in the natural world is a balance that is counteracted by something else. Because humans are such powerful and advanced organisms we are able to change that balance more drastically than any other organism. Once the balance starts to go one direction it gains momentum exponentially. As Americans have changed the climate, we have increased fuel loads with suppression and land management changes, and we have increased in population and distribution of structures. We are in the middle of the change, not at the start or the end of it. It will continue to get worse or get better depending on our decisions as a country about the climate and our contributions, laws, codes, funding, suppression tactics, technology, land use practices and fuels mitigation. Firefighters, land managers, and fuels managers can either be the ones that push for the corrective actions or the ones that suffer the consequences of a failure to do what we have dedicated our life's too. The thought of more fire, longer fire seasons, and larger fires does not scare us, in fact we got in the business for the challenge. Alternatively, we MUST be scared of the thought of dedicating our life's to wildfire mitigation and fighting fire only to leave an environment to our children that is more fire prone and with even less chance of an option for corrective action. From 1910-1970 we failed because we didn't know any better. From 1970-2010 we tried to learn and took the first steps to correct the problems. 2010 forward we have become stagnant and ineffective in changing to meet the challenges created by 100 years of carbon emissions and poor land management. This does not mean we can't still make the right changes, but it will take intelligence and open-mindedness of the public and our organizations.

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What information could help mitigate the risks presented by this future? :

More information on how the climate is changing and better publication of that data. There should never be an argument that the scientific community as a whole is wrong, that is a ridiculous notion with no basis in reality.

Better development and use of already existing technology that can be used to improve safety and efficiency of fire suppression.

Politicians, law makers, and the public will listen to public servants and firefighters, so we need to know what we are talking about.

What information could help capitalize on opportunities presented by this future? :

A change in temperature is not scary or enough motivation to make people change their activities. But the change in extreme weather events, climate events, and wildfire is enough to get their attention. We can use the facts to show what has changed and what will change so that the public will have an interest in changing as well.

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Idea No. 64