Long before fast-moving flames descended on the historic town of Lahaina, the growing threats of catastrophic fire were clear on the western end of the Hawaiian island of Maui. Drought turned acres of invasive grassland lining the coastal town into a tinderbox. And, extreme winds streaming down from nearby mountains spread the deadly fire at an incredible rate, “It was a perfect storm – literally. There were just a confluence of factors that lined up to essentially wipe this town off the map,” said climate scientist Daniel Swain.
Class discussion: Wildfires have swept across the Earth for millions of years – sparked by everything from volcanoes to backyard hamburger grills. Have you ever seen a wildfire? How much damage have such fires caused in your state? The Hawaii fire was fueled grasses that filled abandoned farmland. Over the centuries, how have humans changed how wildfires start and spread? How have fires shaped human history? How is climate change impacting wildfires? How are wildfires impacting climate change?