James West is the editor and producer of The Climate Desk, a collaboration among The Atlantic, the Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, Mother Jones, Slate, Wired, and PBS. He is the author of Beijing Blur.
Higher temperatures, prolonged drought, and fire suppression policy combine to make fires worse.
From the Rim fire currently engulfing California to the Black Forest fire that burned more than 500 homes in Colorado, wildfires are becoming more destructive. In this video, Matthew Hurteau—assistant professor of forest resources at Penn State University—explains how warming temperatures, prolonged drought, and a century's worth of fire suppression policy are "priming the system to make it more flammable."
After you watch the video, be sure to check out Climate Desk's detailed explainer on the link between climate change and destructive fires.
Top image: A fast-moving wildfire on the edge of Yosemite National Park. (Max Whittaker/Reuters)