Episode 283
Sep 22, 2020

Solving the wildfire paradox

Are the fires getting closer to where we live? Or are we living closer to the wildfires?

We’ve talked a lot on the show recently about the wildfires raging in the western United States and darkening skies all over the country. How climate change makes the fire season longer and more intense, how prevention tactics like prescribed burns can get held up, and about the inmates on the front lines in California. But one thing we haven’t talked about much is housing.

Where and how we build our homes is one of the reasons wildfires have gotten bigger, more damaging and more deadly over time. So while Marketplace housing reporter Amy Scott is filling in for Kai Ryssdal, we’re going to dig into that and what we can do about it. Your vocab term for the day is “wildland-urban interface” (wait until you hear the acronym).

Here to talk about WUIs, building materials, fire prevention and more is Kimiko Barrett. She’s a wildfire researcher at the nonprofit Headwaters Economics. She’ll help us do the numbers on communities at risk and guide us through the “wildfire paradox” that protects homes … until it doesn’t.

Later, we’ll talk about Civvl, the “Uber for evictions,” and connect the dots between women leaving the workforce because of COVID-19 and the work Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did in the early part of her career. Plus, Gretchen Goldman answers the Make Me Smart question. She’s the research director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, but you might know her from her recent viral photo:

When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week: HBCUs, Rosie the Riveter and — what else? — pumpkin beer. Plus, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here.

Here’s some additional reading and everything else we talked about today:

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The team

Molly Wood Host
Jody Becker Interim Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Sam Anderson Associate Producer