Wildfires: Reality vs Stasis

In another example of a fixed budget being overwhelmed by an accelerating problem, the US national firefighting budget is nearly spent, though the season is just getting going.

Samantha Larson at Grist reports:

On Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said we’ll likely use up our annual budget for fighting wildfires by the end of August, months before the fiscal year ends in October.

As apocalyptic as the fires that have raged in California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho this year may seem, it isn’t the first time we’ve found ourselves in this lamentable spot. In fact, it’s the seventh time we’ve burned through the budget over the past twelve years. And yet, the budget has stayed the same.

Which means that we’ve had to dip into the funds reserved for preventing fires. Which, along with climate change, means that we’re seeing bigger and bigger fires. Which means that fires end up costing more to put out. Which means … well, you get the picture. We’re creating a feedback loop that only serves to screw us over.

Given that wildfires are predicted to get bigger and badder, if we don’t rethink the budget now, that cycle will only intensify.

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