The Union of Concerned Scientists have released a report outlining the effects of climate change on wildfire costs in the West.
Climate change is producing hotter, drier conditions in the American West, which contribute to more large wildfires and longer wildfire seasons.
The risk to people and their homes is rising as a result, a growing danger made worse by the increasing number of homes and businesses being built in and near wildfire-prone areas. Past fire suppression and forest management practices have also led to a build-up of flammable fuel wood, which increases wildfire risks.
Costs are soaring in response. The expense of fighting wildfires and protecting life and property from harm is nearly four times greater than it was 30 years ago and has exceeded $1 billion every year since 2000 (in 2012 dollars).
Other costs, including the impact on public health, property, ecosystems, and livelihoods, are significant, often far exceeding firefighting costs.
Right now we are failing to effectively manage this mounting risk. We must make better use of our resources to more effectively manage wildfire risks and prepare for the growing consequences of climate change.