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Reflecting on CA Wildfires

Scenes like this one following a fire in San Diego County are becoming more commonplace in California.

(Image credit: Katrina Swietek / Getty Images)
Dec 10, 2018

The 2018 fire season in California gave Stanford experts much to think about, including how the state can develop better policies for preventing fires and new research to better understand the long-term effects of breathing smoky air. Below are links to stories and expert commentary from Stanford, as well as media coverage related to the fires and their consequences.

Stanford Coverage

Stanford experts reflect on the most destructive fire season in California history | Nov. 28

Stanford researchers discuss the reality of air pollution in the Bay Area and beyond | Nov. 20

Wildfires destroying California bring questions about health and climate | Nov. 15

How does poor air quality affect your health? | Nov. 16 

Tipsheet: Stanford Experts on Wildfires


There's a quick way to help prevent wildfires: Shut off the power grid  - Los Angeles Times op-ed by Michael Wara, Dec. 10, 2018

You've Heard of the Anthropocene? Welcome to the Hellocene - Scientific American op-ed by Rob Jackson, Nov. 26, 2018

Media Coverage

California, Trump eye logging to fight wildfire as scientists point to climate change and housing sprawl - San Diego Union Trbune interviews Noah Diffenbaugh, Nov. 25, 2018

Climate, Fire Strike Delicate Balance To Reduce High Fire Risk - The Palo Alto Patch interviews Rebecca Miller, Nov. 21, 2018

What needs to change to address the crisis of worsening wildfires? - KALW interviews Michael Wara, Nov. 21, 2018 

Lessons from Camp Fire: Staying alive in California fire country - Mercury News interviews Rebecca Miller, Nov. 20, 2018

What Policymakers Are Trying To Do About Wildfires As They Become More Destructive - NPR interviews Michael Wara, Nov. 19, 2018

Deadly California fires prompt bold thinking about prevention: Shelters, strict zoning, buyouts - Los Angeles Times interviews Bruce Cain, Nov. 19, 2018

California fire: PG&E canceled planned power shut-off in Paradise area just before Camp fire broke out - Los Angeles Times interviews Michael Wara, Nov. 17, 2018

Wildfires Are Threatening California's Renewables Strategy - Yahoo! News quotes Michael Wara, Nov. 17, 2018

PG&E electric rates: Utility asked to hike bills over California fires - CBS News interviews Michael Wara, Nov. 16, 2018

California to Conduct Wide-Ranging Review of PG&E, Including Possible Breakup - Wall Street Journal interviews Michael Wara, Nov. 15, 2018

Utility asked last month to hike bills over California fires The Journal Times interviews Michael Wara, Nov. 15, 2018

California needs to reinvent its fire policies, or the death and destruction will go on - MIT Technology Review interviews Michael Wara, Nov. 15, 2018

Masks Make a Difference in Wildfires U.S. News & World Report quotes Mary Prunicki, Nov. 15, 2018

Air quality worsens and is expected to last for at least five more days - KTVU Fox News interviews Dr. Kari Nadeau, Nov. 15, 2018

Should California Deliberately Set Its Forests On Fire? Some Experts Say Prescribed Burns Could Prevent Disaster - Capital Public Radio interviews Jesse Miller, Nov. 15, 2018

Deadliest wildfire in California's history portends what's to come - Yahoo! News interviews Noah Diffenbaugh, Nov. 14, 2018

Wildfire Smoke, Air Quality and Your Health - KQED Forum interviews Sharon Chinthrajah, Nov. 14, 2018

How Climate Change Helped Create California's 'Fire Siege' KQED Foruminterviews RELP/Diffenbaugh Lab Alumnus Daniel Swain, Nov. 14, 2018

PG&E debt drawdown raises concerns of potential bankruptcy due to fire costs - Utility Dive interviews Michael Wara, Nov. 14, 2018 

Is being indoors really enough to save you from wildfire smoke? - SF Chronicle quotes Kari Nadeau, professor of pediatrics and of medicine, Nov. 13, 2018

“The New Abnormal”: Wildfires and Climate Change - NPR: 1A interviews Noah Diffenbaugh, Nov. 13, 2018

California's fire dilemma: Rebuild knowing same homes will burn again? - USA Todayinterviews Alice HillNov. 13, 2018

Trump’s overly simplistic and false claim on California’s wildfires - Politifact interviews Jesse Miller,Nov. 12, 2018

California's wildfires: 'Everybody is at risk' from smoky conditions, experts say The Mercury News interviews with Sharon Chinthrajah, Nov. 11, 2018

PG&E renews push for relief from ‘17 fire costs - The Press Democratinterviews Michael Wara, Nov. 6, 2018

Insurers See Smoldering Risk after California's Worst Wildfire - Scientific American interviews Michael Wara, Oct. 16, 2018

Natural disaster is inevitable in California. And it can define a governor's legacy - LA Timesinterviews Bruce Cain, Sept. 30, 2018


Recent Stanford Research, Events & Discussion Related to Wildfire Risk 


Wildfires destroying California bring questions about health and climate - Stanford faculty weigh in on the health effects and increasing frequency of fires.

Diverse Forests are Stronger Against Drought - Diversity is strength among forests. Research by Stanford's Alexandra Konings and others shows the most resilient forests are made up of trees that have a wider variety of rates for water moving up from the soil.

The West is Going up in Flames - In op-ed for Scientific American, Stanford's Rob Jackson explains how the Administration's proposal to rollback fuel efficientcy standards and gut the Clean Power Plan would make matters worse for fighting climate change and fires in the West.

Stanford Expert Discusses Approval of Millions in Electrification Investments Amid Uncertain Financial Future for California Utilities - Stanford Michael Wara discusses approval of millions in electrification investments amid uncertain financial future for California utilities given potential responsibility for wildfires.

Are Forest Managers Robbing the Future to Pay for Present-Day Fires? - In a blog post at ...& the West,Felicity Barringer explains that  as fires burn with greater magnitude and frequency, the cost of fighting them is increasingly borne by money earmarked for prevention.

Challenges and Possibilities in Wildfire Management - As devastating wildfires have become a new reality in the American West, this panel at the Eccles Family Rural West Conference discussed the challenges and new possibilities of managing both their impact and our response.

Moving Beyond "Fire Bad" — Wildfire, forest management, and its impact on healthy watersheds - Stanford scholar Ben Bryant explains how decisions aimed at managing fire in forest landscapes affect water flows for people and nature. 

More Frequent Fires Reduce Soil Carbon and Fertility, Slowing the Regrowth of Plants - Research from Stanford's Adam Pellegrini and Rob Jackson shows long-term effects of repeated fires on soils have significant impacts on carbon storage not previously considered in global greenhouse gas estimates.

Fire and the Future of California Forests - Stanford scholars joined California State Assemblymember Dr. Bill Quirk in Sacramento to discuss how longer, more frequent droughts, higher temperatures, and unpredictable winds from climate change all factor in to the developing landscape of fire modeling and resiliency in California.

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