Are humans to blame for severe wildfires in the West?

, Written by Travis Koch, Posted: Tue, May 20 2014 at 3:14 PM, Updated: Wed, May 21 2014 at 3:54 PM

Are humans responsible for creating climates susceptible to severe wildfires in the West? According to a local climatologist, humans certainly have a role in climate change but there isn't enough evidence to suggest that 'we the people' set the stage for such a scenario.

It's true that much of Southern Oregon and California are in considerable drought conditions this year. California is suffering from a substantial fire season and humans are partly to blame, but how much?

Greg Jones, an environmental studies professor at Southern Oregon University says more research need to be done in order to link the human impact to drought-like conditions which cause these wildfires.

Meanwhile, it's a well known fact to Oregon Department of Forestry spokesperson, Brian Ballou that most wild-land fires are cause by people but historically, the large fires are fought in areas which they cannot reach and caused by dry-lightning.

So which is it?

Jones agrees that people are the cause of most wildland fires but is cautious to balme the human impact on warming temperatures and drought conditions which create the perfect storm for a severe wildfire.

Take California for example. Fires continue to rage in parts of the California South. At the same time, the state- like others, is suffering from severe drought conditions along with other conditions like wind.

A recent report by the National Climate Assessment says wildfires- particularly in the West are expected to increase in severity and frequency. No dispute from fire experts or many climatologists, but blaming humans has yet to become the reason for these conditions from local officials.

As Southern Oregon and Northern California are set for what is likely a significant fire season, many say that more research need to be done before linking severe wildfires and weather conditions to the human element.

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About the Author

Travis Koch

News at Sunrise Co-Anchor Travis Koch started his career as a filmmaker. He wrote and directed documentaries about traveling and extreme sports.

Among his many life experiences, he was a dog musher in Alaska and a baker in Minnesota. Travis began his career at NBC5 News as a weekend photographer and has continued to follow his dreams in television broadcasting and multimedia.

Catch Travis co-anchoring with Jennifer Elliott weekdays on NBC 5 News at Sunrise starting at 5:30am.

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