OUR CLIMATE ADVENTURE IS HERE and this issue of Wildfire magazine is something of a “Pick your Own Climate Adventure” game. And while “game” may be too light a term for our challenge, the call to “adventure” feels right — since in the climate crises we face challenges and hazards to overcome, and we as fire professionals have been the ones traditionally who are called to face such challenges. But now it’s not just the local bush, brush or forest fire but a global change to our fire regimes. And the flames ask, how will we respond to our climate crisis?
For answers, witness our cover image — of Alaska burning, representative of unprecedented fires this summer across the boreal and Arctic regions — and introducing our Fire Globe feature focused on Alaska’s warming climate and the resulting change in landscape-scale fire.
Read on with two leaders in our field — Toddi Steelman, IAWF vice-president and Mike DeGrosky, a past IAWF president and longtime “Thoughts on Leadership” columnist. Toddi asks, “Who speaks for the climate” (and suggests that we can, and must); the Mike follows with advice on how to find the courage to speak from principle, whether the topic is climate change or development in the urban interface.
Continue into the issue for stories of those who operate on principle — our IAWF award winners — and on to our third Issue-Dialogue Paper, focused on the challenge of managing “Competing Priorities and Demands,” where climate change is one of many elements that increase the fire challenge beyond the scale we can manage with our current resources.
Move on into the details of Alaska and fire, and travel across the globe to Catalonia, Spain, where the Pau Costa Foundation shares news of the fire season and a call for greater collaboration amid our new fire challenges (which are exacerbated by climate change). And we close with a reflection by Johnny Stowe, IAWF board member and new Wildfire contributing editor, on a key fire-adapted species, the longleaf pine, and how its adaptation to drought and fire may be tested by a changing climate.
Adventure comes from the Latin aventurus, “about to happen,” and earlier from advenire, “arrive.” In the case of our climate hazards, we’re already arrived. As the phrase “climate crisis” overtakes “climate change,” after the hottest July on record, globally as well as for Alaska, this issue of Wildfire focuses on the topic in the air — how we are adventuring into the hazards and management of climate change and fire. In such times, as Steelman writes, we must do “a better job at exercising our collective voice about climate change.” So here we share a collaboration of our voices — a rally of fire professionals to guide us as we act on our climate crises, globally, from Alaska to Catalonia to the Amazon, even as we’re fighting the fires in our backyards. – RS