Our climate adventure is here

Ron Steffens
3 min readOct 10, 2019

Each issue of Wildfire magazine begins with the editor’s “Briefing” column — an introduction to what frames the issue’s contents and an invitation to engage in the key articles and commentary. The August 2019 issue focused on climate change and wildfire and I invite you to explore insights from a range of fire professionals on the topic that shapes our work today and will have even greater impact in the decades to come.

OUR CLIMATE ADVENTURE IS HERE and this issue of Wildfire magazine is something of a “Pick your Own Climate Adventure” game. And while “game” may be too light a term for our challenge, the call to “adventure” feels right — since in the climate crises we face challenges and hazards to overcome, and we as fire professionals have been the ones traditionally who are called to face such challenges. But now it’s not just the local bush, brush or forest fire but a global change to our fire regimes. And the flames ask, how will we respond to our climate crisis?

For answers, witness our cover image — of Alaska burning, representative of unprecedented fires this summer across the boreal and Arctic regions — and introducing our Fire Globe feature focused on Alaska’s warming climate and the resulting change in landscape-scale fire.

Read on with two leaders in our field — Toddi Steelman, IAWF vice-president and Mike DeGrosky, a past IAWF president and longtime “Thoughts on Leadership” columnist. Toddi asks, “Who speaks for the climate” (and suggests that we can, and must); the Mike follows with advice on how to find the courage to speak from principle, whether the topic is climate change or development in the urban interface.

Continue into the issue for stories of those who operate on principle — our IAWF award winners — and on to our third Issue-Dialogue Paper, focused on the challenge of managing “Competing Priorities and Demands,” where climate change is one of many elements that increase the fire challenge beyond the scale we can manage with our current resources.

Move on into the details of Alaska and fire, and travel across the globe to Catalonia, Spain, where the Pau Costa Foundation shares news of the fire season and a call for greater collaboration amid our new fire challenges (which are exacerbated by climate change). And we close with a reflection by Johnny…

Ron Steffens

Writing on people, places & priorities. Working as a park ranger & firefighter & adjunct faculty @PrescottCollege. From Arizona, Oregon, Wyoming, Africa & afar.