Dr. Nicholas Reksten is an environmental economist and professor at the University of Redlands who is a recognized authority on how environmental issues and events impact the economy.
"In addition to the terrible loss of human and other animal lives, the fires impose a number of other costs—short- and long-term—on society. More resources must be set aside for firefighting and rebuilding structures after the fires. Output can be lost or diminished when farms or other places of business are located near the fires and are either damaged or evacuated because of it.
"If the fires close major roads, people lose time in traffic that they could otherwise be spending in a more productive or fulfilling way, and, of course, their cars emit more pollution from running longer. The ash and smoke blown into the air by the fires drifts into nearby communities severely worsening air quality, which can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory problems, especially in vulnerable populations.
"Finally, fires that are burning more frequently and fiercely because of a combination of climate change, human encroachment on fire-prone areas, and, in some cases, human activities that start the fires, diminish and destroy natural beauty and ecosystems that cannot withstand them.
"We can continue to expect such devastating fires and several fires burning at once as California’s climate becomes, on average, warmer and drier in the future from human-caused climate change.”
Dr. Reksten holds a Ph.D. in economics and B.A. in international studies and economics from American University.