• 2013: Yarnell Hill Fire killed 19 firefighters.
• 2013: Rim Fire is one of California’s largest fires.
• 2016: Cohutta Wilderness Wildfire in Georgia.
• 2016: Gatlinburg Wildfire took 14 lives.
• 2016: North Carolina Chimney Rock Fire burned
for 25 days.
EFFORTS TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE
As discussed, climate change has produced extreme
weather that supports extended wildfire seasons and
destructive wildfires. Multifaceted efforts must be
implemented to help control global warming, climate
change, and escaped wildfires. Reducing emissions
is one obvious means of limiting climate change and
slowing the release of sequestered carbon into the
environment. ( 3) It is posited that density reduction
through removing smaller trees and prescribed small
wildfire burns can help reduce the net carbon release
and prevent catastrophic wildfires. ( 3)
The area identified as having the greatest potential
for limiting climate change is the use of alternative
sources of energy. Alternative options for generating
electricity are being studied and have great potential
to mitigate anticipated climate change. Wind-gen-erated electricity is one resource that has the potential to help the United States advance in renewable
energy. 20 Oil and natural gas can be exhausted, but
wind will always be present, affordable, and nondamaging to the environment. A single 1-MW wind
turbine can displace 1,800 tons of carbon dioxide a
year, and if the United States reaches the goal of 20
percent wind energy by 2030, its electricity water
usage would be reduced by eight percent. ( 20) Several
states have already implemented the use of renewable
wind energy. Kansas and Texas both have Renewable
Portfolio Standards (RPS). As of 2013, Kansas had
19. 4 percent, Texas had 8. 3 percent, and Oklahoma
reached 14. 8 percent of renewable wind electricity.
All three of these states reached their goals early, demonstrating that the Department of Energy’s national
scenario of 20 percent wind energy by 2030 could
become a reality. ( 20)
A recent study conducted by Jacobson et al. (2012)
found that converting New York State’s all-purpose
energy infrastructure to one using wind, water, and
sunlight (WWS) could reduce the state’s end-use
power demand by 37 percent, create 58,000 permanent in-state jobs, and decrease air pollution deaths
by 4,000 a year. 21 The plan proposes to replace fossil-fuel electric power generators with wind turbines,
solar photovoltaic (PV) plants, solar hot water heater
systems, geothermal power plants, and a small number of wave and tidal devices. ( 21)
Although natural gas emits less carbon dioxide per
unit, two factors cause it to increase global warm-
ing relative to coal: higher methane emissions and
less sulfur dioxide emissions. ( 21) As reported by
Jacobson et al., research by Wigley (2011) found that
electricity production from natural gas yields more
warming than coal over 50 years, and thus natural gas
is not a safe greenhouse gas alternative. 21 Additionally,
carbon emissions from advanced biofuel and cel-
lulosic ethanol are about 125 times more than those
from wind energy powered electric vehicles. ( 21)
The research predicts that a New York State
complete conversion to WWS could be complete by
2030 with 4020 onshore 5-MW wind turbines that
cover less than three percent of New York’s land area.
( 21) Finally, the plan is expected to pay for 100
percent of WWS energy generation in only 15 years
through the reduction in air-pollution costs to the
state and global warming costs to the United States
from state emissions. ( 21) Additionally, fuel costs for
WWS would be zero and could have a huge impact
on energy prices. The combined effort of work on
this was completed by the Department of Civil and
Environmental Engineering, Stanford University;
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,
Cornell University; Institute of transportation studies,
U.C. Davis; PSE Healthy Energy; and Pepacton
Institute and could serve as a template for plans in
other states and countries to reduce global warming,
air, soil, and water pollution. ( 21)
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