Even if you don't live in an area prone to wildfires, your health may be threatened by smoke from fires raging in other parts of the country. New NRDC analysis shows that about two-thirds of the United States -- nearly 212 million people -- lived in counties affected by smoke conditions in 2011. And climate change will make matters worse: hotter temperatures and longer dry seasons in summer create conditions that can lead to more frequent wildfires.
The link between wildfires and climate is well established in the United States: numerous studies show that drought and fire have gone hand in hand across many parts of the west. In 2011 and 2012, as much of the United States experienced intense drought, there were record-breaking wildfires in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado; in 2012, Colorado fires destroyed more than 700 homes. Wildfires and smoke are expected to increase over time with climate change.