Commentary: Rethinking fire with data analytics and systems design

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  • Published: 02/13/2020 12:00 AM

From record-setting fires in the western United States to the devastating and still-blazing bushfires in Australia, it is increasingly apparent that society must forge a new relationship with fire. Factors that include changing climate, expanding human development, and accumulating fuels mean new approaches are needed, and many experts are calling for increasing resiliency by suppressing fewer fires and accelerating forest restoration. Yes, you read that correctly—suppressing fewer fires. Scientific evidence that's been accumulating for decades points to the ways that suppressing fire leads to unhealthy forests. Ongoing research by the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, shows how short-term gain from suppression can condition the landscape for future, even-greater fires burning in extreme conditions, and MIT Sloan Executive Education has had a hand in translating that thinking into action.


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