It felt like we were lucking out this year. Through June, July and August, wildfires in Washington were not nearly as bad as in past years. Our summer skies were reasonably smoke free. Then, September came, and the whole state burst into flames – the whole West Coast, in fact – and now Seattle’s fresh, marine air is polluted by smoke.

We know the American West, including this upper left-hand corner of the region, is getting hotter and drier due to climate change. We know that phenomenon is going to get more acute in the years to come and fire dangers will increase. We are past the point of fixing the warming planet; we can only try to find ways to lessen the impact.

Looking for tiny steps to help, one statistic stands out. So far in 2020, there have been 1,355 fires of various sizes in Washington. Just 55 of those have been caused by lightning; all the rest were ignited by humans, in one way or another.

When it comes to wildfires caused by human activity, is there some way to better educate people about the combustibility of our forests and grasslands? Wouldn’t it be smart to see if we can stop people from being stupid when they are sitting on a pile of dry tinder?

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