New Research Shows Increased Wildfire Risk among Minorities

Environmental disasters in the U.S. often hit minority groups the hardest.

When Hurricane Katrina slammed New Orleans in 2005, the city’s black residents were disproportionately affected. Their neighborhoods were located in the low-lying, less-protected areas of the city, and many people lacked the resources to evacuate safely. Similar patterns have played out during hurricanes and tropical storms ever since.

2017’s Jolly Mountain fire in Morgan Creek area with Entiat Hot Shots. Photo by John Marshall.

Massive wildfires, which are becoming more frequent due to climate change and a long history of fire-suppression, also have strikingly unequal effects on minority communities, a new study shows. This study is one of the first to integrate both the physical risk of wildfire with the social and economic resilience of communities to see which areas across the country are most vulnerable to large wildfires.

Researchers at the University of Washington and The Nature Conservancy used census data to develop a “vulnerability index” to assess wildfire risk in communities across the U.S. Their results, appearing Nov. 2 in the journal PLOS ONE, show that racial and ethnic minorities face greater vulnerability to wildfires compared with primarily white communities. In particular, Native Americans are six times more likely than

Original Title: New Research Shows Increased Wildfire Risk among Minorities
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