Why 150 fire professionals are urging westerners to forego fireworks this year

View in browser   US Edition | 3 July 2021
Academic rigor, journalistic flair  
Here’s how easily a wildfire can start when it’s as hot and dry out as the West is right now: A tractor mowing grass in the heat of the day set off a spark in my neighborhood last week. Within minutes, a wildfire was racing toward homes up the hill. About a dozen homes had to be evacuated while fire crews fought to contain the blaze. By the time they got it out, the fire had burned nearly 40 acres. Most of the U.S. West is that tinder-dry right now, and we’re headed into a holiday known for people playing with fire. That’s why over 150 wildfire scientists are urging Westerners to forgo the fireworks this July Fourth weekend. They explain in an article this week why the record-hot, dry west is so susceptible to burning right now and how human activities, the cause of most fires in populated areas, spike every year on July 4. As the authors write, there are better ways to celebrate. My local fire crew recommends a glow-stick dance party. This week we also liked articles about the close ties between government infrastructure spending and social engineering throughout American history, why more robots are not being used in the search and discovery mission in Miami, and the role of university boards of trustees and the Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure vote. Stacy Morford Environment and Climate Editor

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