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Wildfires And Climate Change

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Are the wildfires the West is facing due to climate change?  That’s a question that may be answered by the insurance industry.  Not from a government panel, or from science, but from an adjuster.  The West has been on fire these past few months. New Mexico experienced its largest fire on record in Gila Nation Forest; the conflagration burned up 247,000 acres (100,000 hectares). Other major wildfires have occurred in Utah and Wyoming, as well as other parts of New Mexico and Colorado.  The more recent conflagration is in the mountains of Colorado.  A massive wildfire in Colorado has forced the evacuation of 36,000 people, destroyed over 300 homes, and killed two people.  The devastation wrought by the Waldo Canyon Fire even prompted a visit form U.S. President Barack Obama.  The West is experiencing drought conditions and some experts are predicting a 1930’s dust bowl scenario for the west within the next decade.  Snowpack’s in the Rockies have declined which results in lower water runoffs in the spring in summer to keep forests alive.  Some forests in the west have been devastated from lack of water, but also from the pine beetle, which is thriving due to warmer winter temperatures.  These beetles have ravaged forests throughout the mountain states.  But, getting back to the insurance industry.  Interestingly, the insurance industry is beginning to adjust their premiums for wildfire activity.  Noting that the recent changes in climate conditions have them re-examining the way they are assessing risk in areas prone to wildfire conditions.  Climate change not only impacts our health and the welfare of the planet, but it will impact our pocket books in ways we haven’t even imagined.

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