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Wildfires: environmental and social entanglements
Wildfires: environmental and social entanglements

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3 Wildfires as environment-society entanglements

As the number and severity of wildfires increases and wildfires become a significant global environmental challenge, understanding why they occur is imperative.

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Figure 8: Australian wildfires, 2019-2020

The previous section suggested that the 2007 Greece wildfires were not simply caused by the Mediterranean climate. Rather they were produced by environmental and social interactions. Indeed, the increasing incidence of wildfires on cultivated land, nature reserves, and the peripheries of settlements across the world exemplify many issues posed by contemporary environment-society relationships. On one hand, such fires indicate the penetration of low-density suburban settlements into semi-arid woodland, bush and scrub which is naturally prone to burning. On the other hand, the increasing incidence of fires is often linked to the droughts and higher average and maximum temperatures associated with accelerating global climate change. This section will introduce the geographical concept of entanglement and how it can be used to understand wildfires as both environmental and social events.