With Climate Change, a Terrifying
New Normal for Western Firefighters
10 AUG 2015
In the last two decades, officials in Colorado have watched as massive, months-long wildfires have become a regular occurrence in their state. A Yale Environment 360 video goes onto the front lines with Colorado firefighters who describe what it’s like to continuously confront deadly blazes fueled by a hotter, drier climate.
To many people, climate change is a distant, abstract concept. But to the men and women who battle wildfires in Colorado and throughout the American West, evidence of a warming world is something they face on a daily basis. In recent years, these fire crews have fought blazes that are larger, more frequent, faster-moving, longer-lasting, and increasingly unpredictable — the result of rising temperatures, diminishing snowpack, and more frequent droughts.
video, “Unacceptable Risk: Firefighters on the Front Lines of Climate Change,” produced by The Story Group
, focuses on the people battling to save lives and property in a rapidly changing environment.
THE FILMMAKERS Daniel Glick
(top) and Ted Wood
produced this video through their Boulder, Colorado-based multimedia production company, The Story Group
. Together they bring more than 40 years of journalism experience to their work. Glick is a former Newsweek
correspondent covering the Rocky Mountain West and has written for more than four dozen periodicals. Prior to The Story Group, Wood was a freelance photojournalist whose work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Audubon, The New York Times,
and many other publications.
It tells the story of dedicated professionals struggling to come to grips with a new and frightening breed of fire. Once known as the “asbestos state” because of its low incidence of big wildfires, Colorado is now experiencing huge, record-breaking fires almost every year.
“We’re being asked to battle fires that didn’t exist 20 years ago,” says veteran firefighter Don Whittemore. “We’re seeing a level of fire and an intensity of fire and a risk to firefighters that hasn’t existed in the past. On a day-to-day basis we’re being surprised — and in this business, surprise is what kills people.”
Watch the video.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
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