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Adapting To The New Reality Of Increased Wildfire Danger

Evening Edition

Aired 5/13/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Rick Halsey, Director of the California Chaparral Institute. He specializes in wildfire ecology and is also a former wildland firefighter.

Alexandra Syphard, Ph.D., Ecologist with the Conservation Biology Institute

Lawrence A. Herzog, Professor and Coordinator of the Graduate Program in City Planning at the SDSU School of Public Affairs


The number of wildfires in San Diego is expected to increase as a result of c...
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Above: The number of wildfires in San Diego is expected to increase as a result of climate change. In this photo, a San Diego firefighter battles flames in Tierrasanta during 2003 wildfires.

Last week, state officials acknowledged the very early start of fire season in California this year. Governor Jerry Brown emphasized that the state has to prepare for longer and more hazardous fire conditions in the years to come.

"Our climate is changing, the weather is becoming more intense," Brown said. "It doesn't look like the people who are in charge are going to do what it takes to really slow down this climate change, so we are going to have to adapt. And adapting is going to be very, very expensive."

Two San Diego Cal Fire officials appeared on Midday Edition last week to explain how firefighters are working to prepare for serious wildfires.

Today we explore Governor Brown's warning about adapting to the new reality of increased fire danger. What does that actually mean? How expensive will it be? Are San Diego officials beginning to address this problem?

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | May 13, 2013 at 12:13 p.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

read the rand report on the recommendation to lease the super scoopers and decide if cal fire is really run in best interest of the tax payers.

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Avatar for user 'jrpeng'

jrpeng | May 13, 2013 at 8:58 p.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

At last, an open, honest discussion of the REAL risks and causal factors behind the threat of wildland fires to human infrastructure. GREAT guest panel. I hadn't previously heard of Dr. Herzog, but he seemed pretty on the ball; Dr. Syphard's research I'm familiar with, and it was Rick Halsey's book on this very subject that got me interested in the issue some 5 years ago. I wish the interview had been longer - there is so much to discuss on this topic, so much that the public is ignorant of and needs to be informed on. The emphasis on preparing one's property from the inside out is key, and I'm so glad it was addressed. Something like 95% of all homes lost in Southern California wildfires are because of embers getting into eaves and attic vents; and while, yes, defensible space is important, it's not the single solution everyone seems to be told it is, especially when it's implemented improperly. There are many measures that need to be taken that, working together, can create a firesafe home/property. It takes all 5 fingers to make a fist, not just the thumb.

This topic deserves a full series of coverage, and an open call-in Q&A. KPBS, could you make a point of bringing more public attention to this issue? It's so absolutely vital to anyone living in Southern California. And maybe promote Halsey's book (if it's not a conflict of interest), because it's just such a wonderful primer on the topic of living with wildfires.

Thank you, so very much, for presenting this interview on this topic. I hope it is the first of many.

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