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How Can Humans Coexist With Monster Wildfires?

How Can Humans Coexist with Monster Wildfires? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Courtesy of Gus Ruelas/Associated Press.

A Zócalo/Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West Event
Moderated by Nathan Rott, National Desk Correspondent, NPR

From Australia to the Amazon to the American West, megafires—wildfires that burn more than 100,000 acres of land—have grown so frequent, large, and deadly that they’ve forced a reevaluation of how human societies coexist with fire. In a warming world, governments are confronting whether we must retreat from certain places to survive in a fierier world. Have fires become too big for people and the planet? How are fire management techniques—both old (such as “cool” or prescribed burns used by some Indigenous people) and new (digital technology that maps fire hot spots)—being employed against megafires? And how can citizens and their communities learn to live, build, and plan for a future of firestorms?

Historical ecologist Jared Dahl Aldern, CSU Long Beach American Indian Studies professor Theresa Gregor, and Fernanda Santos, The Fire Line author and Professor of Practice at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, visit Zócalo to examine how and whether human beings can coexist with megafires.