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Out of Control Wildfires: a California-size Disaster

• December 02, 2010 • 6:00 PM

Fire ecologist Max Moritz discusses the reason that Southern California and other Mediterranean landscapes are wracked by wildfires over and over.

The natural beauty of southern California is famous around the world.

But that beauty comes with a price: giant wildfires that threaten to engulf cities almost every year. How do we prevent these fires? And if the fires are a natural part of local ecosystems, will prevention efforts cause even bigger problems down the road? Into the debate steps Max Moritz, a fire ecologist and professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

In a recent article in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, he shows that large wildfires are an inevitable part of living in Southern California, as they are driven by powerful Santa Ana winds that can’t be stopped. He discusses what people and communities can do to prevent loss of life and property in a landscape where devastating wildfires are unavoidable.

To hear Curiouser & Curiouser host Jai Ranganathan interview Dr. Moritz, click on the player below.

Music for Curiouser and Curiouser is provided by Jamie Miller and by David Matheson.

Jai Ranganathan
Dr. Jai Ranganathan is a biologist and his research focuses on questions of species conservation. He can be reached at jai.ranganathan at gmail.com.

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