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California Burning: Episode 1—Our History With Fire

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James Lewis
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Smokey Bear is arguably the most effective advertising campaign in American history—but Smokey’s message created a fear in many of us that’s led to a misunderstanding of fire.

In this first episode of California Burning, we explore what Smokey got wrong, and we learn how a series of unprecedented wildfires in the early twentieth-century started forest management policies that have contributed to the catastrophic wildfires we’re experiencing today.

"Fire is so graphic, and so visceral in a way, that people use it to animate some other agenda, so we end up not really talking about fire and how to deal with the fire problem." —Steven Pyne
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From L-R, forest historians: Char Miller and Steven Pyne

Featuring Smokey Bear biographer James Lewis, and forest historians Steven Pyne and Char Miller.

Full transcripts of this episode, photos and links at californiaburning.net. All episodes also available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

 

Matt Fidler is a producer and sound designer with over 15 years’ experience producing nationally distributed public radio programs. He has worked for shows such as Freakonomics Radio, Selected Shorts, Studio 360, The New Yorker Radio Hour and The Takeaway. In 2017, Matt launched the language podcast Very Bad Words, hitting the #28 spot in the iTunes podcast charts.