Does Smokey Bear need a makeover to prevent more wildfires?
Some of the traditions we hold dear may have to be rethought to cope with a future full of fire, scientists say.
As the American West endures another record-breaking fire season, fueled in part by a historic drought, some scientists are urging Americans to rethink a few traditions they hold dear. Campfires and fireworks are two big ones. Smokey Bear is another.
Three-quarters of a century after the blue-jeans-clad bear first pointed a finger at us— “Only YOU can prevent forest fires,” he proclaimed—more than 80 percent of all wildfires in the U.S. are still ignited, accidentally or intentionally, by humans. Humans spark 97 percent of all wildfires that actually threaten homes, according to fire ecologist Jennifer Balch of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Nathan Mietkiewicz of the National Ecological Observatory Network.
The risks are mounting.
“The main reason for these increased