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Climate Change Means More Fires, Less Water


Tom Piechota, Vice President for research at UNLV and climate change expert

It’s hot and it’s getting hotter, particularly in the southwestern United States. According to UNLV climate change expert Tom Piechota, by the 2070s, average temperatures could increase by as much as seven degrees. So that recent 117 high would be more like 124.

It also means that wildfires, like the recent Carpenter 1 fire may become more common.

“The climate models show that you will have an increase of wildfires under climate conditions and that’s because you have drier conditions with drought conditions,” says Piechota. “Because of the warming that’s going to take place, that will increase the dryness of the vegetation and the dryness in the environment there.”

Piechota says that droughts caused by hotter temperatures also present public health concerns. “You have the potential for disruptions in urban electricity and urban water supply.”

He says the key to sidestepping the potential crisis caused by diminishing water supplies is developing technologies that will help residents adapt. He says renewable energy sources are important, as is the development of smarter water and transportation technologies.

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“I think there’s a lot we can do and a lot of innovation that can take place.”